What’s better than caramel thumbprint cookies? Healthy gluten free salted caramel thumbprint cookies; that’s what! Well, okay, healthier is probably a more accurate description, but with just a touch of sugar and most of the sweetness coming from agave syrup, we are definitely a long way from unhealthy. These salted caramel thumbprint cookies are made without…
I admit it. Since being diagnosed with cancer, going through chemo and just functioning has consumed most of my energy. I haven’t canned a thing all year. I haven’t even been baking as much as I used to. This simply won’t do.
The culinary bug has been buzzing past my ear and I have been itching to get back into the kitchen. Saturday, I picked up three dozen eggs from a local farm. Ok, so I pay a bit more for them, but they are fresh, they taste great and I LOVE getting blue-shelled eggs.
Yes, they taste the same as a brown-shelled egg, but shouldn’t you appreciate the beauty of something so simple?
Sunday is our busiest day of the week. We have church in the morning and my daughter has youth group in the evening. During that time, we have to eat, normally run errands; including grocery shopping.
As soon as we got home from shopping, I went to work. I had the best intentions of making a gluten-free loaf of bread, but time wasn’t on my side. Instead, I prepped veggies for the work week. I take them to snack on.
I wanted to use the tomatoes that I purchased last week. What popped into my mind? Roasted totato soup! I roasted the Roma tomatoes and garlic in the oven. Since I needed to roast onions too, I used my air fryer. LOVE that machine!!!
While that was roasting, I made peanut butter. Yup…super simple. Just use peanut powder, a bit of salt and almond milk. Now, I have something to dip that boring celery in. That’s a win in my book. I also put some beans in a bowl with water to soak.
It was time for a nap…yup those are still needed as chemo all but destroys your body and being over 40, I bounce back about as much as a deflated ball.
We stopped off at the Asian market to get a few supplies the regular stores don’t carry. Then off to the she-child’s youth group. I stayed because there was a parent forum with a lot of useful information.
As soon as we got home, I started a batch of yogurt. While that was coming to temperature, I diced an onion and pulled out the ingredients to make crock pot baked beans. Yup, that’s for tonight’s dinner. Need to keep it simple, so we can start making lumpia for a church potluck on Wednesday. I also made the base for ube ice cream. It’s my most favorite ice cream ever. Heck, I love ube in all sorts of dishes. By making my own ube ice cream, I can guarantee it’s gluten-free. It’s so worth it. I will be putting that in the ice cream maker tonight.
Cleaned up my kitchen, took the dogs out and headed up to bed. The culinary bug is still in my house. Not sure when it’s going away, but dang if I didn’t get a lot accomplished yesterday!
My favorite season of the year is almost here; no not the season with a bearded fat man in a red suit. The season right before that; where leaves turn vibrant shades of oranges, reds and yellow, before they detach from the trees and begin to litter the ground. Fall! That’s the best season of the year (to me anyway).
That being said, it’s also the time some of my favorite dishes are made. Ok, who am I kidding, I make fall food year round, but for most people, they tend to stick to seasonality when cooking.
Last night, I made a Fall staple that you must have in order to make caramel apples: Caramel. I like to make it in the crock pot, simply because it allows me not to stand at the stove and there literally is no clean-up.
All you need is a crock pot, a can of sweetened condensed milk, three 4-oz mason jars and that’s it!
Simply open the can and pour equally into the three 4-oz mason jars. Set the mason jars into the crock pot, uncovered.
Carefully, add enough water to cover the jars to where the milk stops. This is how the milk will cook evenly; surrounded in water. Add the lid to the crock pot and set the cooking temperature to low and eight hours.
I like to do this overnight or when I’m gone all day at work. Then it’s ready when I wake up or come home and I am not hovering over it hoping it miraculously finishes quicker. Carefully, remove the jars and place on a heat-protected surface to cool.
In addition to being able to use this caramel to cover apples for Halloween, you can use it as a great school or work snack. Pour a bit of caramel into a container, pack some apple slices and a snack is ready to go. You can use it to drizzle over baking creations or simply eat it with a spoon, if that’s your prerogative.
I am a native New Yorker, who now lives in Northern California. My mom was also technically a “Yankee” but spent half her life in the South. If you ever heard tell of her childhood, half of the kids were born in the North and half in the South. She said, “we fought our own civil war”.
One thing my mom always enjoyed was homemade iced tea. There are many ways to make iced tea. Pour boiling water over tea bags, quick steeps, long steeps, etc. My favorite way to make iced tea is to start with sun tea. Why should I pay to turn on my stove, when the sun is a natural resource and with a little planning, I will never run out of tea; especially in the summer.
My mother preferred her tea (and coffee) unsweetened. I prefer sweet tea, myself. However, one simply cannot take a glass of cold, unsweetened tea and add some sugar and call that sweet tea. Having not been raised in the South, even I know that much.
As previously stated, I don’t make my tea on the stove. However, having been a bartender in my youth, I prefer to make a simple sugar mixture to add to my tea. One cup of sugar to one cup of water, stir, heat until sugar is dissolved. Simple! Then, I let it cool and add it to a container to add to my tea. I like to reuse the Martinelli’s apple juice jars; perfect for simple syrup.
Over the years, I have discovered that the quart-sized mason jars are perfect for this. I make a half-gallon of tea at a time, simply by using two quart jars. I just add three decaf tea bags per jar. I use decaf only because my coffee is caffeinated and I drink tea into the evening. I need to sleep ya know.
They now sell plastic lids for mason jars and they are the best ever for making the jars reusable. Ok, so that was the canning nerd side of me, but you get my point.
Normally, once i get home from work, I bring the tea in (set out before I leave for the day).
I add about 1/8 cup of simple syrup. It’s really a personal taste. Add as little or as much as you like. Then I add some lemon juice. I’ve always loved lemon iced-tea. Maybe that’s not part of the sweet tea most people know, but again, I’m technically a “Yankee” for this venture, and in the true spirit of being a New Yorker, “I did it my way”. So, in goes the lemon.
Put the cap back on, shake it up and there you have it: sweet (lemon) iced tea.
If it’s summer, that means there’s watermelon. It’s one of the few foods that I have to consume as soon as the seedless melon hits the shelves. Yes, I do the seedless, it’s worth the extra ten cents per pound. Keep reading and you’ll understand the necessity as well as the preference.
In my quest to eat healthier, I prefer homemade popsicles to store bought. Each year, I experiment more with flavor combinations. It would appear I have started a collection of popsicle molds; I’m up to four now. So far this year, it’s been relatively simple creations. I’ve taken frozen mixed berries, blended them smooth. Sometimes, I will add a bit of pomegranate juice to thin out the berries for pouring. The mixed berries offer a nice, sweet flavor and tend to be a bit more cost efficient than buying several quantities of blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries all at the same time.
I have also blended up watermelon and added bits of fresh strawberries to the mold. So a nice refreshing taste with a hint of strawberry here and there. It’s a great way to use up some of that large watermelon you had every intention of eating, but half of it is still in the fridge.
This past weekend, I stopped by my local produce stand and they had yellow watermelon. How I have not heard of this previously, is beyond me. However, I had to try it. It looks just like regular watermelon, only yellow. I personally think, it’s a bit sweeter than its red counterpart.
Last night, I chose to make my first layered popsicle. The bottom of the mold was mixed berries and the top was yellow watermelon. When unmolding, the watermelon would become the bottom and the berries would be the top. I need to play around with this more, but they turned out really well and were super yummy.On the days it’s too hot to cook and you can’t imagine eating, I have no issues with eating a few popsicles to hold me over until it cools off a bit to think about making food. After all, it’s 100% fruit and it’s good for you! I am still thinking up new creations to add to my popsicle recipe list. I’m working on how to incorporate yogurt for an ever more satisfying, and filling popsicle.
Do you make homemade popsicles? What are some of the ingredients you like to use?
It’s Thanksgiving morning and the house inhabitants are still asleep. I’m up to get a few preparations started for the day. Ok, truth be told, the dogs have no clue what “sleep in” means. However, I still have culinary tasks to perform and there’s no time like the present, right?
Many people know I rarely buy processed food and make as much homemade food as possible. This applies to croutons as well. Last night, I baked a loaf of gluten-free bread.
This morning, I sliced up the bread and then cubed it.
From there, I added some spices (garlic powder, onion powder, salt, thyme, parsley and oregano) along with some olive oil and gave it all a good toss to coat evenly.
The soon-to-be croutons went onto a large baking sheet and were baked to perfection in a mere 15-17 minutes in the oven.
After these were finished, I looked up and saw a recipe book a friend had given me years ago. I have been adding to this book off and on. I stopped what I was doing and added the crouton recipe to it.
With this only being the second Thanksgiving since my mom went to live in Heaven, I can’t help but think of all the years I helped her prepare the stuffing for Thanksgiving. My favorite job was to chop the celery.
Granted, my daughter is still sleeping, but I look forward to the day where she too, will help prep our holiday meals, right by my side. I am not keeping this recipe book for my benefit, but for hers. One day, I will hand off this recipe book to my daughter.
I want her to have some great holiday memories to share with her family and be able to share the foods she used to have as a child. It would be nice to have my future grandchildren have their grandmother’s recipe book when they become adults.
In our church, someone volunteers for the year to bring the communion bread. I volunteered for 2015. Now, I am one of two gluten-free people who attend this church. They actually changed the communion bread to gluten free, so we don’t have to skip this part of the service.
I volunteered to make the bread, as buying it is really expensive and quite bland. Granted, some of my attempts have not been up to my usual baking standards. However, I think I have finally found the winning recipe and the right flour mixture.
I have switched to a new gluten-free flour mixture. I have attempted, and had some success, making my own mixtures, I have tried several premade flour mixtures and I think I have found the one that works for me: Pamela’s Artisan Flour Blend.
I have a really hard time buying mixes, even if it’s gluten-free. I like one flour mixture that I can use for multiple recipes. I made two loaves of white bread yesterday. One for me to sample before taking to church and another to take to church. I was so impressed by the results. The bread recipe I followed was spot on. The bread is moist, delicious and actually looks like a loaf of homemade bread. Follow the tip on a parchment collar. I had never used one before, but it helps immensely.
I have also used this flour blend to make gluten-free pancakes. They are so good, you’d never tell they weren’t made with regular flour. The nice thing with Pamela’s flour is I can Google almost anything and add “using Pamela’s Artisan Flour” and I get a lot of recipes to choose from.
UPDATE (4/6/15): The bread was a success! Over a dozen people came up to me telling me how great it was.