Cinnamon Squares

I have been craving donuts lately.

It’s not entirely my fault… it’s the books that I’ve been reading.  I’m so easily tempted by a good pastry description.

Tricky Twenty-Two, the latest in the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich recently came out and I’ve been devouring it.  The problem is that every time Stephanie is feeling defeated… and let’s face it, we Stephanies aren’t really Bounty Hunter material, so she’s feeling defeated pretty often…. she and Lula (the ex-Ho turned file-clerk/sidekick-bounty-hunter) get donuts.  Sometimes they get fried chicken, but I’m not really tempted by the fried chicken.  It’s the damn donuts that call to me.

I’ve been trying to eat healthier.  This past year has been rough on my diet.  I’m still Gluten-Free…. falling off the wheat-free wagon leads to headaches and stomach issues, so staying GF isn’t the problem….. the problem is chocolate, ice cream and soda are all gluten free too.  I’ve also found a number of GF replacements that are delicious and laden with carbs and evil.

So, NO, I don’t need donuts… no… no, no, no, no….. but I want em so bad.

Okay…. so what will get me my donut ‘fix,’ but not be loaded with fake flours and starches and evil?

I discovered the Up Late Anyway blog a while back and was transfixed by the magical recipes she posted.  They were insane… impossible… ingenious?

Up Late Anyway posts High Fat / Low Carb recipes…. so they’re gluten free and loaded with flavor… because fat isn’t evil… it’s delicious and good for us.  (Read The Fat Revolution for more info about the benefits of a High Fat/Low Carb diet.)

My favorite recipe is the Low Carb Cheese Danish.  It is pure magic.  The main ingredient is ….. MOZZARELLA CHEESE! Yes!  In a sweet danish.  I know, it’s crazy, but true.

The first time I made it I was about halfway through the recipe and my hands were coated with egg and coconut flour and I was getting really pissed… I was sure I’d just ruined a bunch of expensive ingredients for no good reason…. and then BAM!  It all came together in my hands.  One minute…. slimy grit… the next a beautiful dough.  It was magic.

Low Carb, Gluten Free, Cinnamon Squares

When I give you a recipe on my blog it’s mine.  I may have been inspired by another blog or inherited the recipe from someone, but I’ve altered it or contributed enough additional directions that I feel like I’m giving you something new.

So I’m not going to give you the Cheese Danish recipe here… There’s no point in me copying and pasting her work.  You should go look at her page and check out all the other amazing recipes she has.

Part of the purpose of my blog is to introduce you to things…. recipes… books… places…..ideas.  My contribution is the introduction… and letting you know that I tried it and weather or not it worked for me.

See?  I’m useful too!

Here’s the link: Up Late Anyway’s Cheese Danish

Read the recipe and actually follow the directions.  Seriously.  I’ve tried it a few times and screwed it up once or twice because I wasn’t following directions.  Don’t be lazy.  This recipes is worth the effort to use the right ingredients.  The ‘dough’ is super versatile and could be used for so many things.

I did two things different from the original recipe.  I didn’t make the cheese filling (It is delicious, so you should really try it, I was just after cinnamon this time.) and I used real sugar.  (I have made it both ways; using real sugar and using Truvia… I can’t stand the taste of the Truvia… my mom and husband don’t even notice it…. so that’s totally up to you.)

Happy Accidents – Buttermilk Biscuits

I’ve been making biscuits using the Cup4Cup Buttermilk Biscuits recipe for a few months.  We’ve been really happy with how they turn out and they’re delicious with sausage gravy.  Usually I make a half batch and we eat a few and freeze the rest.  They thaw nicely and since we try not to eat Biscuits and Gravy too often, they last us a few months.

Last week I asked Brian to make a batch since I’d bought a bunch of jams and jellies at a local church bazaar…. and there is really never a bad time to have biscuits.  Right?

I reminded him that I cut the recipe in half and then wandered off.  I’m going to say I was doing something productive, but I’m not positive…… I wandered in and out of the kitchen and I noticed on one pass that his dough looked “chunkier” than I remembered mine looking.  He said that I’d been chopping the butter up in the food-processor too much.  Fine, fine… whatever…

When the biscuits came out of the oven they fabulous…. absolutely, freaking, fluffy, not-at-all-like-mine, fabulous….. Bastard.

Okay, I don’t want to be a total bitch, but… really?!  Even his biscuits are better than mine?  WTF?!

He tried to convince me that it was because I chopped the butter into the flour too much….. and then he admitted that maybe he hadn’t followed the recipe exactly……  Like… maybe he didn’t half everything in the recipe…. maybe he just cut the flour in half…. and nothing else.

Well, yeah!  That would make them different…. cheater.

He’s made the biscuits three more times following the Brian Recipe and they’ve been delicious each time.  I’ve served them to our non-Gluten-Free friends and they loved them.  No one would realize that they were GF.

They are fluffy and buttery and absolutely perfect.  A very happy accident! (And, of course, biscuits are his job now.  Win!)

We have yet to freeze any of these biscuits… every time we’ve baked a batch they’ve all been eaten before any could make it to the freezer.

Cup4Cup Biscuits

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups Cup4Cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 stick  unsalted butter, cold, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk + 1 to 2 tablespoons for brushing
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, for brushing

Directions

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Using a whisk or food processor, combine all dry ingredients together and mix until well blended.

Be sure butter is very cold. Using a food processor, add in the cold butter and pulse until it is incorporated into the dough and it resembles pea-sized shapes. If you do not have a food processor, use a pastry cutter or a fork to cut in the butter.

Place this mixture into a bowl. Using a fork slowly mix in the buttermilk until the dough is formed into a lumpy ball. The dough will be loose. Do not over mix.

Take the loose dough and wrap it in clear plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Using additional flour as needed, roll out the dough to 1 inch thick.

Take a round cutter and cut the dough, place cut out shapes onto parchment lined baking sheets. Brush on buttermilk to the tops of the biscuits to ensure a golden brown top.

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Brush hot biscuits with melted butter and serve warm.

Taco Seasoning – Day 9

Taco Seasoning

When my doctor put me on the allergy diet the first time, at six years old, one of the (many) things that I wasn’t allowed to have was Caramel Coloring.  Of course, caramel coloring is found in all sorts of things. Brown sodas, canned soups, seasoning packets… brown things…. lots of things!

Today, a tad bit older than six, I’ve googled and I see that a number of places are saying that caramel coloring is now gluten-free and doesn’t have any listed allergens…. umm… I dunno… and I still think the crap is bad for you.

Good article about Caramel Coloring: Much Ado About Caramel Coloring

The FDA says its okay (and you know we can always trust the FDA….), and California says caramel coloring will kill us all (paraphrasing a bit, maybe)…. I’m with California on this one. Gluten-free or not… I’m going to cut out all the caramel coloring and additives that I possibly can.

I’ve been wanting nachos since Dad and I got Mexican for lunch last week and I couldn’t figure out if the nachos were made with flour or not.  Dinner wasn’t the best tonight… we tried out a few new recipes and… they kinda sucked.  So we thought we’d have nachos for a movie snack.

Taco Seasoning 

  • 1 Tbs Chili Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Ancho Chile Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Pepper

Stir spices together.  Store in an airtight container.

We combined the Taco Seasoning with ground hamburger, taco sauce (Taco Bell – Mild), sheep’s milk cheese and nachos. YUM!

Taco Nachos

Day One – Spice Girl

So I survived the first day without wheat, milk or eggs!  Do you have any idea how many products have wheat or milk in them that you would never expect?  No, of course not, because you would never expect it!  Ragu Traditional spaghetti sauce has MILK (romano cheese) in it!  Can’t have butter… BUTTER…because it’s milk!   Do you know what has butter in it?!  Everything!  *sigh*  It could be worse… one of my friends is allergic to soy and corn…. that IS in everything.  I shouldn’t complain (I’m going to anyway…).

Actually, I did pretty good for the most part.

Breakfast Smoothie

For breakfast I made a smoothie:

  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Coconut Milk
  • Youngberry Juice
  • Chia Seeds

Zipped it around in the Oster Blender for a bit… quite yummy.

– If you like smoothies, but don’t want to drag out the big blender all the time (who does?), the Oster MyBlend Blender is amazing.  It’s got great blending power… zips right through frozen berries and ice.  The best part?  It blends IN the BOTTLE!  You fill your bottle with your smoothie ingrediants, screw on the lid (with the blades), snap it into the blender and ZZZIIPP! Smoothie!  Unscrew the blender lid and screw on the travel lid… off you go!

Lunch and SnacksLunch was a bit harder…. Usually I want something hot for lunch, but I was in a rush and didn’t want to have to read a bunch of labels.  I knew that the Feldkamp bread was okay and I had a new oatmeal that is pretty good ….

  • Oatmeal with Craisins and chopped pecans
  • Feldkamp bread with Planters Nutrition peanut butter
  • Cuties oranges for a snack

By the time I got to dinner I was getting concerned… I’d spent a bit too much time on Pinterest and was just confusing myself.  I stopped by the grocery store on my way home and picked up a bunch of seafood and beef… normally I avoid beef, but since I can’t have the chicken or turkey I figured Brian would want something other than just fish and seafood.  The store had some yummy looking jumbo shrimp on sale, so I got a big bunch.  Now, what to do with them?   Then I remembered my shopping trip to Penzey’s Spices a month or so ago.

Tsardust Memories Shrimp

Tsardust Memories Shrimp

Peel and devein the shrimp then lightly saute them in the olive oil.  Add the lemon juice, white wine Tsardust Memories and chives (sorry, no measurements…. I just kinda eyeballed and dumped).  Cover and let simmer 3-5 minutes or until shrimp are no longer clear.

Eat.

I also made Roasted Potatoes.  I should have added carrots too, but didn’t think of it until too late

  • 1 Sweet Potato
  • 2 Yukon Gold Potatoes (mine were pretty small…. I was going for an even amount of sweet & gold potatoes)
  • 2 Carrots
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic Salt
  • Pepper
  • Paprika

Chop potatoes and carrots into bite-sized pieces.  Drizzle with olive oil and add spices… (again, sorry, no measurements), toss to coat.  I used a 9×9 inch Pyrex pan, but if you add more potatoes you might need a bigger pan… you want a single layer of potatoes in the pan, otherwise it takes forever to bake.

Bake at 400 for 35 – 40 minutes.  Potatoes will be lightly browned and soft on the inside.

Last night I actually slept through the night… I only got up once… normally I get up four or five times… only once was AMAZING!  No idea if it had anything to do with the new diet, but boy that would be wonderful!!

– S

Muffins for the Tears

Lately I have spent too much time at funerals and considering the whole practice and tradition.  I’ve decided that I hate them.  Friend, family, co-worker… doesn’t matter. The current style of funerals seems to me, to be conducted with the intent of dragging every last bit of pain and misery from the family.  I just don’t understand.

When my grandmother passed suddenly – and yes, I like “passed”…. It implies travel – to pass from one place to another… or completion – like passing a test…. and isn’t that what this life is?  Anyway… Within three hours of her passing, our family was crowded into the office of the Funeral Director.  Next we were choosing flowers then calling all the relatives, grocery shopping and house cleaning…. There wasn’t even time to cry until that night…. when I was up at three a.m. writing the funeral programs…. Seriously?  Why?

I like the idea of going into seclusion for a day or so…. no phone calls, no planning…. I don’t need a week… just maybe 24 hours… to think and to cry.  Then I could face the world again.  And why are we spending days at the funeral home?  Why?! 

When Grandma passed, we opted for a simple, short service at the funeral home and at the grave, then we invited all the family and friends back to my house for snacks and sharing stories.  Leaving the funeral home and going to a private home (or restaurant… I’ve been to one like that before too and it was nice) lightens the situation.  Before long everyone was talking and telling stories.  I’d set out a ton of photos, lots of snapshots and portraits.  Tons of food, of course….

And the flowers!  What am I supposed to do with 50 bouquets of flowers?  You feel guilty when you finally throw them away….. Not that I don’t appreciate the gesture.  I do.  And I realize… you want to do something…. let the family know you are thinking of them…. but what?  Flowers/plants are traditional…. a donation to an organization is pretty nice too (please send the donation to the organization, don’t give your check to the family and make them complete the paper work and mail it in… gee, thanks… now I have more work to do.)  The most thoughtful thing that anyone sent was a bunch of muffins.  Nice.  They didn’t have to be refrigerated, they could be eaten for breakfast… blueberry and banana…. Thoughtful, nice, easy… simple and yet so considerate…and when they were gone, they were gone.   No vase or basket that you had to DO something with.

So when my cousin’s husband passed  recently I wanted to take muffins to them too.  Our local funeral home delivers the flowers to the family home…. I’ve been involved with others where the family had to go back and pick up all the flowers (see? Not helpful… more work), but Vinyard’s Funeral Home really was pretty great. Having just been through the whole thing, I knew I could give the muffins to one of the directors and they would take them to the family home.  I mentioned to my cousin’s daughter that I’d left muffins and to eat them and not send me a card.  (Writing those cards is pretty hard… even if you are just writing “thank you for your thoughtfulness” ninety-eight times…. with every card you remember…and it’s one more thing to do when you feel like your soul has been ripped out of your nose…).  Mom visited with our cousin a few weeks later and she mentioned that the muffins had been a big hit and asked for the recipe.  I sent the recipe to her later with a pretty card.  I used a pretty tin (someone had brought us chocolates in this pretty burgundy tin… chocolates are always good when you are sad…)  to store the muffins.  If you don’t have a tin, maybe a nice ziplock container…. something they don’t need to return to you.  Remember? The goal is to inflict the least amount of work on the family.

I’d found this recipe from One Perfect Bite on Pinterest.  I only made a few changes… I wanted muffins, not a loaf, so I used a jumbo muffin pan and I had to change the baking time… I ended up baking them about 25-30 minutes… depending on your oven, your time might vary, start checking them around the 20 minute mark.

Orange Glazed Banana Nut Muffins

Orange Glazed Banana Nut Muffins

Ingredients:
Bread
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 package (8-oz.) cream cheese, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1-1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 4 medium)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups chopped walnuts, divided
Glaze
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon grated orange peel

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease jumbo muffin pans
2) Cream butter, cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in bananas and vanilla.
3) Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in another bowl; gradually add to creamed mixture. Fold in reserved 1 cup pecans.
4) Scrape batter into prepared pans. Sprinkle with remaining nuts. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.
5) In a small bowl, whisk glaze ingredients; drizzle over muffins. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. Yield: 12 jumbo muffins