Christmastime is here again…Let’s EAT

When I was growing up Christmas was about family, church and food. I have so many magical memories. I wish I could just do a little flash back with you! I grew up in Southern Oregon, so we never had snow for Christmas. I know no one knows what the weather is like in Southern Oregon because most people haven’t heard of Oregon apart from Portland, but it is wet and cold and foggy in the winter. We had black ice a lot, freezing fog, drizzly, misty, green and gray Christmases. But inside our tiny little house with dark brown multi-level loop carpet, there was a fire in the stove and candles on every horizontal surface. We always had a fluffy, fresh, fragrant tree, covered with ornaments made from Styrofoam and covered in glitter or tiny hand prints cut out of old Christmas cards. We had fat glass lights that had to be screwed into the sockets. And two special lights; one that was shaped like a snowman and one shaped like a house covered in snow. Topping the tree was an angel with blond feathered hair and dressed in a miniature Princess Diana wedding dress. She was glorious.

My mother started making treats before Thanksgiving and didn’t stop until New Years. She made fudge, Rocky Road, English toffee, divinity, peanut brittle, peppermint bark, Buckeyes, coconut candy balls and sometimes caramel. Plus there were cookies; Spritz, filbert crescents, butterscotch rolled cookies or sugar cookie cutouts. We always brought plates of goodies with us to visit relatives, even though they always had plates of goodies out on the coffee table for visitors.

Christmas Eve my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and various other slightly related family members would bundle ourselves into several cars and slide our way through the fog to church. The sanctuary was always full with family from out-of-town, kids home from college and people who only ever came to church on Christmas and Easter. I remember  being so impatient for the end of the service. Every year I held on to that candle with the paper ring around the bottom just waiting for the lights to go out. I never got to hold the candle once it was lit though. All the children would come forward and sing Silent Night with the pastor. If I close my eyes I can see all those points of light in the dark church. Then we would slide our way back to our tiny house filled with family. Mama would set out platters of goodies and platters from other family members would cover the dining room table. Hot coffee and hot cider would be served. I’m getting a tummy ache just thinking about it. How wonderful it was.

Well, I don’t make near as many treats as my mom did, but I still make a few. This year we are having fudge, (I just finished the second batch) macaroons (if we want some for Christmas I’ll have to make another batch of those too) and candy balls. Well, on to recipes!

Five Minute Fudge

2/3 cup coconut milk creamer, original barista style
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cup sugar

Stir together in large sauce pan over low heat. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add:

1 1/2 cup miniature marshmallows
1 1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Stir until marshmallows are melted. Pour into a 9×9 pan and chill. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

 

Coconut Macaroons

1 1/3 cup fine shredded coconut, unsweetened
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour*
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 325*. Stir all ingredients together. Drop by teaspoonful onto greased and floured or parchment covered baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Remove from baking sheet immediately.

*I have used coconut flour to make these GF, totally works.

No Thank You, I’m Having a Smoothie…

…Because my pants don’t fit. Because what I really want is pumpkin pie. Because I haven’t eaten anything green for five days. Because I haven’t really felt hungry since before Thanksgiving. Oh, the shame!
With the weather turning colder I thought I might want a break from smoothies, but…without a healthy green smoothie to start my day I kinda fall apart (nutrition wise). Here is a smoothie adapted from Green Thickies. Just like most recipes, I don’t have all the stuff that goes into her smoothie, so I do what I can. Usually I eat pears, if I can wrestle them from my husband or oldest kid, but I have been buying pears with a purpose lately. Yeah! I had a ripe pear that no one knew about and into the smoothie it went. If your pears are small you might want to add two.

 

Pear and Apple Smoothie

1 cup non-dairy milk
1 cup apple cider (cold pressed, not clear apple juice or the alcoholic kind, unless you roll that way)
1/2 cup oats
1/4 cup dates
1/4 cup hemp protein powder
2 cups spinach or other baby greens
1 apple, cored
1 pear, cored
1 banana
1 pinch pumpkin pie spice or nutmeg
splash of vanilla

Blend milk, cider, oats and dates. Then blend in protein powder and greens. Add fruit, spices and vanilla, blend until smooth.

I find I have to do T-Tapp right before I drink my smoothie so I don’t get too cold.

Green Oats

It is too cold for a smoothie this morning. I want something hot and hearty. My tastes have changed as I have aged, I don’t like white, processed grains any more. They taste stodgy. Do you know what I mean? Like glue or wallpaper paste. White bread or pasta, white rice, blech. So, if you still like Wonder bread toast with Skippy peanut butter, don’t try these oats because you probably won’t like them. (Try these ones instead, Butterscotch Oats) My husband would laugh if I tried to give him this for breakfast.

Green Oats

1/3 cup quick oats (old fashioned oats pulsed in the food processor)
2/3 cup almond milk or coconut
Cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes in the microwave.
Dash of salt
2 tablespoons hemp protein powder
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1-2 drops maple flavor (optional)
Optional toppings:
Handful of walnuts
1 tablespoon coconut
Dried fruit
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Doesn’t that look healthy? Yes, yes it does.

So, now that I put hemp in my oatmeal, I’m wondering what else I could hide in there. Spirulina? Powdered spinach? Hmmm…maybe.

Can I Give Up SWEETS? Um, no.

The thinnest I have been as an adult was during my vegan experiment. However, my hair was also falling out, so perhaps I wasn’t doing it quite right. Last night I was thinking that I should make another vegan effort. The thing is, I don’t think that meat is a problem for me. I don’t have the passion for saving animals. That sounds heartless, but I like to eat meat. I know where it comes from. I ate vegan just for health reasons. Pretty sure skinless chicken breasts aren’t making me fat. Yes, I gave up meat and all animal edibles, but I also gave up sweets and alcohol.

So here I am again, facing my problem, my addiction, my passion: sugar. As I am writing this I have two tabs waiting for me to click them. The Minimalist Baker is calling me! Vegan Pumpkin Sugar Cookies! AND Easy Raw Vegan Brownies! I want to make them so much and they are vegan! Doesn’t that count for something? Am I over-thinking this whole eating thing? No, I don’t think I am.

Not over-thinking, but thinking the wrong way. I have a problem with eating sweets until they are gone. I can’t make a pan of brownies and eat one. I am greedy. Ooh, that is an ugly word! It’s true though, I don’t want to share my sweets. I want the first cookie out of the oven and I want the last one too. So, what do I do?

Either, 1. give up all sweets (will work for a time, but not a permanent solution), 2. make healthier sweets (better, as long as I don’t eat the whole recipe, negating the healthy part) 3. make small batch recipes (again, I still have to pay attention. I got into trouble with “single serving” desserts. I ate a mug cake that was almost 700 calories. That is still less than Cheesecake Factory cheesecake, but as I will never eat that cheesecake…um…did I have a point?) 4. give sweets away (I can’t eat the sweets if they are not in my house). (My apologies to any grammarians reading this post.) New Plan! I will implement all of these ideas.

I need to have sweet-free days. A dessert break, that sounds too good. A break from desserts. I know people who don’t eat sweets after every meal, they do exist. Every one has different temptations. I can walk past a slot machine and feel nothing. I cannot walk past a pan of brownies and feel nothing. Even though I know that I can never eat cheesecake, I still like to visit the cheesecakes at the Cheesecake Factory. They look so good in that case. I like to read the descriptions of them in the menu. Focus! How did I get hung up on the Cheesecake Factory? Stop saying cheesecake! Deep breath, drink of water. OK, moving on.

I can make small batch, healthy dessert recipes and give them away. Good idea. Let’s start with pumpkin sugar cookies! To make them a little more healthy, I halved the fat and added more pumpkin. One of my favorite muffin recipes Irresistible Double Chocolate Muffins, doesn’t have any added fat and uses pumpkin instead. I also used more whole wheat flour. Pretty sure I could use all WW pastry flour, but my kids might not eat them. Next objective: smaller batch, well 20 is a pretty small batch for cookies. Plus I am making these on Monday so that I can take most of them to Bible study Tuesday morning! I think that sounds pretty good.

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I decided to use a cookie scoop and not get my hands all gooey.

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A flat bottomed bowl works the best for the cinnamon and sugar.

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I  always use parchment paper for easy clean-up.

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A picture of my hand. I always wanted to be a model.

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These would look so much better if I had any talent for photography or a camera. Both would probably be good.     On to the recipe!

Vegan Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

 

Makes: 20 cookies

Adapted from Minimalist Baker Vegan Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

 

  • 1/4 cup vegan butter or solid coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (I like Farmer’s Market Organic Pumpkin)
  • 1/2 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot powder (for thickening/binding)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

 

  • 2 tablespoons organic cane sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

 

Instructions

  1. Add butter or coconut oil, pumpkin and sugars to a large mixing bowl and cream with a mixer for 1 minute.
  2. Mix in vanilla.
  3. Add corn starch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, mix to combine.
  4. Add flours. Mix until incorporated, being careful not to over mix.
  5. Freeze dough for 15 minutes, or refrigerate for 30 minutes (or chill overnight), preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, and position a rack in the center of the oven.
  6. Mix 2 tablespoons of sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Scoop out heaping 1 Tbsp amounts of dough and roll into balls (it will be sticky) or use a cookie scoop. Swirl dough in cinnamon sugar to coat and place on a baking sheet 2 inches apart to allow for spreading.
  7. Bake on the center rack for 10-14 minutes, depending on how you like your cookies.
  8. Let rest on pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

These stay puffy and are a bit cakey. I’ve only eaten two three, you know for research.

 

 

 

 

Does this have FRUIT in it?

After the In-N-Out diet my sweet husband stated that he wanted to go on the green smoothie diet with me. Which means that I have to make him a smoothie when I make myself a smoothie. He won’t drink the same smoothies I drink because…they have fruit in them! I think he might be confusing smoothies with milkshakes. This morning he was a bit concerned because I didn’t add cocoa and peanut butter to his smoothie, so it was green! He looked at me and asked “Does this have fruit in it?” No my love, I make your smoothies out of ice cream and candy bars, but don’t worry you will still lose weight because you are a man. Before his smoothie this morning he ate a Payday bar and after his smoothie he had an apple strudel. And he will still lose weight. I’m feeling a little catty this morning. I will drink my Spirulina Smoothie, (I used lime juice instead of lemon and added a mango, super yummy!) have a large glass of water, take deep breaths and smile. Ah, that feels better. Good thing my bad moods don’t last long and as long as I share them on my blog no one else has to be in a bad mood either! Thank you one random person who reads this! You just helped save my marriage. So, here is the only green smoothie my husband will drink. It might work for kids too!

The Anti-Green Smoothie

1 cup dairy-free milk
1/4 cup oats
1/2 cup raisins or dates
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 cups spinach
1 or 2 bananas
3 tablespoons cocoa, or to taste (or cover up the green)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup ice

Blend in the order given. Make sure to blend the spinach before you add the next ingredients or it won’t fit in the blender.  Sometimes I add 2 tablespoons of coconut butter and leave out the cocoa or it would be good to sub the peanut butter with coconut butter and still add the cocoa.
Don’t tell my husband this has a milk beverage or a banana in it because then he won’t drink them anymore.

 

Easy Biscuits – 5 Ingredients

I have a weakness for biscuits. My mama usually used the biscuit recipe from her old, battered Better Homes checkered cookbook. She made the best biscuits ever. And the best apple pie and now I’m getting hungry! These biscuits were so easy and just about perfect. The original 3-Ingredient Coconut Oil Biscuits  from Gimme Some Oven calls for self-rising flour, which I have never bought. It would be easier to use self-rising flour and skip the baking powder and salt, but since I don’t have any other recipes that use self-rising flour I’ll just make 5-Ingredient Biscuits.

Biscuits

2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup coconut oil, solid
3/4 cup almond milk, or any non-dairy milk

Pre-heat oven to 425*. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together. Cut in the coconut oil (I actually used my pastry blender for the first time in a year) then add the milk. Give it a good stir until it forms a ball, turn dough out onto floured surface. If your dough is too soft add more flour as you knead. Knead 10-12 times. Shape into a disk and cut out biscuits. I used a juice cup to get 18 small biscuits. My biscuit cutter would have made about 6 biscuits (maybe, it’s big). (Gimme Some Oven has great pictures. When I grow up I’ll be a blogger like that.) Bake biscuits for 10-12 minutes. I like mine golden brown on top.

Favorite Chocolate Cake

The internet is so great. I searched for “sour milk chocolate cake” and found the exact recipe I used last summer! Whahoo! Now I just have to remember the changes I made, also I am making a link for the next time I lose the recipe. Original Sour Milk Chocolate Cake, from The English Kitchen. This one is not vegan or dairy-free, but it is a start. The fabulous thing is that this recipe can be vegan and chocolate free (for those times I give up chocolate) and still be yummy.

I have to say that the burnt sugar icing is totally a happy accident. The frosting was supposed to be brown sugar icing, but well…you know how sugar and butter melt and merge together, but sugar and coconut oil, well, don’t? I might have had my sugar on the burner too long, but then I remembered a recipe for ice cream that started with caramelized sugar and creamer from Speedbump Kitchen.  I hate to throw out food, it’s like admitting defeat, so when it looked like I might have ruined the frosting I grabbed some So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer and started stirring. I took a little taste and was pleasantly surprised. My oldest daughter told me it was the best frosting I have ever made. Great. Good thing I wrote it down!

Sour Milk Chocolate (Carob) Cake
With Burnt Sugar Frosting

1 1/2 cups sifted flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa or carob powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 banana or 1 large egg
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 cup sour non-dairy milk
1 TBS vanilla

Pre-heat the oven to 350*F.  I used spray coconut oil to grease a 7×11 pyrex pan. A 9″ round cake pan would also work.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Mix together the sour milk and vanilla.  Add to the dry ingredients.  Stir until moistened and then add the coconut oil while stirring (lumps of hardened coconut oil are not ideal). Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed or use a whisk and beat it by hand to offset the calories.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 25 to 28 minutes until it tests done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from the  oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.  NO need to remove from the pan.

Note – Even if plant-based milk is past date it isn’t really “sour” so I add 1 TBS of vinegar in a measuring cup and add enough milk to make up 1 cup of liquid.

Burnt Sugar Frosting

1/4 cup coconut oil
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup coconut milk creamer
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
dash of salt

Melt coconut oil and brown sugar in medium pot. Bring to a bubble and keep stirring. Remove from heat and add creamer and STAND BACK because it will sputter! And the sugar will harden. Whisk the mixture until sugar lumps dissolve. Keep stirring, it will work. And stir some more, until the sugar is dissolved.  Stir in the powdered sugar, vanilla and salt. Add more powdered sugar if needed to be a spreadable consistency.

This cake doesn’t really need frosting and the two times I have put frosting on this cake it turned weird the next day. The frosting looked like it had melted in spots, even though I know I waited for the cake to cool before I frosted it. I don’t know. I still tasted great, just didn’t look right. So, only serve it to company right after you frost it or just eat it all yourself. Enjoy!