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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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).

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.

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.

 

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!

Romantic French Toast?

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Sometimes I’m tired of eating healthy. Shocker, I know. I’m really trying to view food as fuel for my body. But food is so much more. When I think about romantic food, I do not envision a smoothie. I love smoothies, but I think one of the most romantic things is brunch. I’m a girl, what do you want? I get nostalgic about brunch. I have had some wonderful brunches in my life, not many, but a few great ones.

Jacksonville Inn in Jacksonville, OR. Croissant French Toast. I was in high school and it was a revelation. My two favorite breakfast foods in one!

Mama’s on Washington Square in San Francisco. Orange Cranberry French Toast. I was in college and again it was a revelation. I started making French toast with all kinds of quick breads. I love banana bread French toast. Now, these brunches were memorable, but not romantic. They were brunch with friends. I remember talking and laughing and having amazing food.

Five Sister’s Jazz brunch in Pensacola Florida. Fried Pork Chops, they were not a revelation. They were really good, but they didn’t change the way I saw pork chops. I was married, had a small child and a baby. I was so thrilled to sit down, listen to live music and have someone bring me delicious food. Again, it was the setting and the company and the food that made for a memorable brunch.

With food allergies dining out can be more of a hassle than a pleasure. I can’t eat French toast at restaurants anymore. I adapted this overnight French toast recipe so that I could have a memorable and romantic brunch at home. The work is done the night before so you can enjoy your coffee or mimosa or both while breakfast is in the oven.

Overnight French Toast
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cinnamon Baked French Toast

1 loaf  French Bread
8 whole Eggs
1 can full-fat coconut milk
1 1/2 cups coconut or almond milk
3/4 cups Sugar
2 Tablespoons Vanilla Extract

FOR THE TOPPING:

1/2 cup All-purpose Flour
1/2 cup Firmly Packed Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 pinch Nutmeg – Optional
1/2 cup vegan butter or coconut oil

Spray a 9×13 pan with non-stick cooking spray or grease with coconut oil.

Cube the bread and fill the pan with it.

Whisk eggs, milk, sugar and vanilla together and bowl and pour over the bread. Cover the pan and place it in the fridge overnight.

Stir the flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg together and then cut in the butter/oil. Pour it into a bag and put in the fridge for morning.

In the morning preheat the oven 350*. Pour the crumb topping over the top of the bread and pop the whole thing in the oven for 45-60 minutes. Make some coffee and a mimosa and snuggle while this bakes. Serve with warm maple syrup or berry syrup or anything your little heart desires, like another mimosa.

 

Spirulina Smoothie

The Loch Ness Monster Green Thickie from greenthickies.com is one of my favorite smoothies. I thought it would be horrible, I mean reading the ingredients did not make me want to try it. However, I had some spirulina powder that I needed to ingest somehow and this was a recipe from a trusted blogger. Now I find myself craving this smoothie. This morning I was craving one, but I like use fresh spinach and this thickie doesn’t call for extra greens. Luckily I was out of spinach. Perfect! Now, I would have never come up with this recipe on my own. Even though I have all these ingredients in my pantry I would not think of putting them all in a smoothie, but somehow it works.

Spirulina is one of those super foods that you buy just for the health benefits. I don’t think anyone ever said they loved the tasted of algae. When I was a little girl my grandpa took blue green algae. He didn’t put it in a smoothie or anything. As far as I know he just mixed with water and slugged it down. It was one of the highlights of trips to their funky house on the Oregon coast and one of the memories I cherish of him. He would pretend that the green slime turned him into a monster and then he would chase my sister and I around the house while we giggled and shrieked with excitement. He was such a great grandpa. I will gladly drink this smoothie in his honor.

Spirulina Smoothie

  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup of raisins (or 4 pitted dates)
  • 1/4 cup of coconut
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup mango
  • 1 banana
  • juice 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon spirulina powder
  • 1 scoop collagen or protein powder (optional)
Blend the water, raisins, coconut and sunflower seeds until smooth. Add fruit, juice and spirulina powder and blend again. Makes two servings.
Drink it down and pretend it turns you into a swamp monster. Chase your kids/dog/cat/husband/roommate around the house.