Baking

Autumn kitchen sink muffins recipe – gluten and dairy free!

November 1, 2016

So I had a big day Sunday. I peeled almost 30 apples, made 9 jars of quite yummy applesauce (plus some in the freezer), and managed to burn myself pretty nicely. Hey, you win some, you lose some, but the burn is another story.

So before that happened, I’m in my kitchen, big pot of apples cooking on one burner, huge canning kettle coming up to temperature on the other. Little Miss and her daddy are relaxing in the living room, and I think hmm, since I need to be in the kitchen anyway, let me use this time.

Rewinding for a moment, last weekend we visited my brother and sister-in-law upstate and we made a visit to the rather windy, but always lovely Schenectady Farmers Market. I’m kind of kicking myself for not buying more Pucker’s Gourmet pickles, but again, that’s another story.

So we stop to buy some bread and I nudge my husband and nod towards what is labeled as a “carrot apple oatmeal raisin” muffin. Another couple of nudges got me one, and we decided to share it the next morning. It was fluffy and beautiful, and quite yummy; not a combination I would have necessarily thought of. So for the past week I’ve had this flavor combination kicking around in my head.

Fast forward again to Sunday. In between stirring the apples, I shredded some carrots and diced an apple real small and well…threw things together. I made up the recipe off the top of my head based on what I know of baking (and had the forethought to write down what went into the bowl for in case they came good). And come good they did.

My muffins don’t have the beautiful golden domed top of the one we bought at the farmer’s market. But you know what they don’t have either? Gluten and dairy. The ingredients are actually quite simple, and the outcome was moist, yummy, just sweet enough muffins that peeled cleanly out of their wrappers.

muffins3I’m calling these Autumn Kitchen Sink Muffins. Are you familiar with the “kitchen sink” concept? That’s when everything goes in but the kitchen sink (my soups tend to be kitchen sink soups too). I could call these Gluten Free, Dairy Free Apple Carrot Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Raisin muffins, I suppose, but that seems like a mouthful.

The recipe is incredibly straightforward, but there is one point I will clarify. I happen to have recently bought oat bran, which is what I used here, but in the past I have simply thrown organic rolled oats into the food processor to grind them into oat bran. Because this recipe doesn’t rely on gluten free flour, you don’t get that odd taste and texture that it often gives baked goods. As you’ll see when you’re mixing, the ingredients distribute nice and evenly so each bite is consistent; you don’t get doughy bits and them random mouthfuls of just the mix ins.

Feel free to leave out the chocolate chips or raisins, or substitute in craisins or other dried fruit. A handful of rolled oats would add some extra chew.

Okay, enough talk. You got all the big points. They’re gluten free. They’re dairy free. They’re easy. And they make a very serviceable dessert or breakfast, because most of the sweetness is natural.

Autumn Kitchen Sink Muffin Recipe (gluten free and dairy free)

Ingredients:

  • 2 carrots, shredded and peeled
  • 1 medium apple, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1/4 cup baking oil (I used avocado, because it’s what I had handy)
  • 2 eggs
  • Pinch of salt
  • Healthy sprinkle of cinnamon
  • Generous handful each of raisins and chocolate chips
  • Sprinkle of ground chia/flax seeds and hemp seeds (totally optional, but I threw them in)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Grab a muffin tin and some liners.
  2. Peel and shred two medium carrots (I used a box grater), then peel, core and dice a medium sized apple into very small pieces, set in a bowl.
  3. Add sugar, baking powder, oat flour, salt, cinnamon and the ground seeds, if you’re using them. Mix it up so everything is evenly distributed.
  4. Add oil and stir in, followed by 2 eggs. Drop your mix ins on top (raisins and chocolate chips in this case) and stir until the mixture looks even.
  5. Spoon into waiting muffin liners, filling half to 3/4 of the way. These will puff up somewhat, but should not puff enough to overflow.
  6. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center of one comes up clean. Allow to cool slightly before removing to a wire rack, or to enjoy warm.

This recipe made 9 muffins, and any leftovers will last several days in the refrigerator.

Baking

Birthday cakes, minus

October 28, 2016

I say “I need to bake” fairly often. And 9 times out of 10, it’s not normal baking.

Normal implies following recipes and baking what most of the population eats. Wheat, dairy, full sugar, all of that. I nearly always bake non-dairy, using either coconut oil or vegan butter in place of real butter, and often enough it needs to be gluten free also. And sometimes I mess with sugar too, either reducing the amount or substituting in some maple syrup.

This fall I had two birthday cakes to make, one for my dad, and one for well, me. Yes, I made my own birthday cake; it made sense and I like baking.

I used existing recipes with only moderate alterations, and the results were pretty nice, which is why I’m sharing. I’ve made plenty of gluten free, dairy free cakes from existing recipes that sort of felt like you were eating sand. The texture was wrong, the taste was off…there are a lot of ways a well meaning cake can go pear shape.

But these were good. Really, quite good. So I decided, even though it’s been a while since I made these, that I’d share these recipes with you for just in case you find yourself in need of a gluten free or dairy free cake. I’ve already done the test run for you!

Gluten free, dairy free birthday cake

cake1For my dad’s birthday, I wanted to do something to his taste. He’s not a fan of very sweet desserts, so I wanted something with enough natural flavor that the recipe wasn’t relying on sweetness to carry it. I found the Light & Fluffy Gluten-Free Lemon Layer Cake from Gluten Free Gigi (click the title to link to the recipe), and decided to use that as the base. After years of thinking otherwise, I’ve found that I rather like lemon and as I suspected, the lemon helped cover the flavor of the gluten free flour.

This recipe does call for 1/2 cup of milk, but the author herself used non-dairy milk instead, so it was very simple to just substitute in the cashew milk I had in the house.

I had a minor mishap in that I planned to top this cake with coconut whipped cream, but my coconut cream wasn’t cold enough and wouldn’t whip; I made emergency vegan buttercream using Earth Balance vegan butter sticks instead. The two layers of gluten free, dairy free lemon cake housed an interior layer of homemade strawberry jam I made back in June, then I piped the vegan buttercream on top and pressed sliced strawberries and blueberries into the top.

The two layers were on the flat side, but that worked out just fine for me. I hate needing to trim cakes to layer them.

The result? The cake had a nice taste and texture, and the lemon rounded it out and covered the taste of the flour a bit. The jam added a nice kick of sweetness, and the fresh fruit on top brought it all together. All things considered, I’d call this a success.

Vegan chocolate birthday cake

cake2For my birthday, I chose what else? Chocolate. I didn’t need to go gluten free this time, but I still needed to avoid dairy. I chose The Ultimate Vegan Chocolate Cake from It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken (again, click the title to link to the recipe). The recipe was easy to follow and overall, pretty simple. I did use slightly less sugar than the recipe called for, and didn’t miss the missing 1/4 cup or so. I will admit, adding apple cider vinegar threw me a little because I hate the smell of apple cider vinegar, but it worked.

I did not make the frosting according to this recipe, but instead made coconut whipped cream (you can easily find recipes, basically you throw cold coconut cream in the KitchenAid with powdered sugar and let it get fluffy) which I mounded onto the layers, then sprinkled the top with  chocolate chips. Because why not.

The two layers fluffed up beautifully, taller than the lemon cake came. In my past experience, vegan cakes tend to come very flat, but not this one. The layers were beautiful, and I piled them up with homemade peach jam from this summer generously slathered between. Then topped it with that coconut whip I mentioned.

This cake came really nice. It wasn’t the overwhelming chocolatey-ness of a german chocolate cake (which has melted chocolate in the batter) or a flourless chocolate cake (which is practically all cocoa powder and sugar), but compared to the vast majority of chocolate cakes that just sort of taste brown, this was a real winner. I am extraordinarily picky about chocolate cakes; they’ll be gorgeous and gooey looking and then just taste brown. They betray me.

This was not a betrayal. This was a very pleasant success.

So! Test runs complete. If you find yourself in need of a recipe for a gluten free and dairy free cake, check out the Gluten Free Gigi lemon cake recipe, and if dairy free or vegan is your intention, visit It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken for the chocolate cake recipe.

Cooking

A souper idea

October 12, 2016

lilysoupWe have a problem in my house. My toddler is addicted to soup.

I’m not even kidding. She’s asking for it at every meal, and since she knows I have some in the refrigerator, she keeps opening the fridge and demanding it. This kid’s enthusiasm for soup is both hilarious and unnerving.

Not that I can blame her, really. I love soup, and I love making soup. My husband is of the opinion that soup is not a meal and I humor him, most of the time, by serving it as a starter or accompaniment. But to be entirely honest, a hearty chicken soup is as much a meal as anything else, in my opinion.

Let’s go back to the beginning here, do you make soup? From scratch, I mean, no packets, bouillons or mixes needed. If your answer is no, it’s time to try. It’s so simple, I am absolutely telling you, if you can cook at all, you can make soup.

You don’t even need a recipe. Guidelines are all you need, and before you know it you’ll be throwing things in the pot and seasoning like a pro, whipping up pots of fragrant, amazing soup, and just in time for the cool weather rolling in.

Starting in the fall, I make a big pot of vegetable soup nearly every week, and Little Miss and I eat it throughout the week for lunches. In the past I would fish out the veggies for her but now, she wants her own bowl with the full experience in it for her. She eats the veggies, then points to the broth and says “soup!” before either asking for help with her spoon or feeding herself (really, rather neatly for a two year old).

Now, why is soup awesome?

  • It’s warm and hearty, and you can make it with nearly anything.
  • It lasts several days in the refrigerator, and the flavors combine even better after sitting for a day or two.
  • You can freeze leftovers in plastic freezer bags for easy defrosting at a later date.
  • It’s wonderfully nutritious, with all the amazing nutrients from the veggies seeping into that yummy broth.

If you’re one of those people who fish out the chunks and leave the broth, I’m not going to go so far as to call you a heathen, but I’m going to imply it. Strongly. Ahem. I don’t mean restaurant or supermarket soup, I mean homemade soup. As mentioned in my list above, all the nutrients that cook out of the ingredients go into the broth, and if the soup is done well, it should be absolutely delicious! There is no real skill necessary to make chunks of chicken or veggies taste like what they are. The broth however, is an art, and art should be appreciated.

Are you ready for the guidelines, or should I keep pontificating? Nah, you’re ready for the guidelines.

Guidelines for the easiest soup ever, which you can and should modify to make all sorts of amazing soups:

Chicken: Chicken soup is the base for matzoh ball soup, and matzoh ball soup is amazing. I do generally use matzoh ball mix (the matzoh ball mix, not soup mix) for convenience, but the soup is all from scratch. Adjust your amounts to what you need and your seasoning to taste.

soupveggiesFirst you take a pot. Add a little olive oil and let it heat up, then sear some skinless chicken thighs on both sides and set them aside. In your hot pot, saute 1-2 diced onions, then add some chopped carrot and celery and a parsnip if you wish (they cook down softer than carrots and add a sweet, earthy flavor). Give it a few minutes so your veggies get a little color. At this point I like to do some basic seasoning with salt and pepper to mix into my veggies, then I add my water. How much depends on how much soup you want; eyeball it, you know what soup looks like. I don’t think I make pots with less than 8 cups of water, honestly. Now I crank up the heat until the water starts to boil and add some seasonings; fresh or dried parsley, dried dill, and maybe a little garlic powder. Once the water is boiling I carefully drop the chicken thighs in, cover the pot, reduce the heat and let it simmer for an hour or two or three. Honestly, the order in which you do these things doesn’t terribly matter as long as it all goes in the pot, but I do recommend the searing and sauteing for extra flavor.

Give it an hour or so for your chicken to cook, then taste your broth. The chicken fat will have added color and flavor, and the chicken should be falling apart, so fish it out, shred it and toss it back in. Does your broth need more salt? A little more herbs? Add as needed, and simmer as long as you have patience. If you make your soup the day before you need it, the time in the fridge will allow the flavors to marry beautifully, and once cold, you can skin off extra chicken fat before warming and serving (you’ll see it, a thick yellow coating on the surface).

Congrats, you made chicken soup. If you want matzoh balls, follow the directions on the packet.

Vegetable: I’m going to surprise you here by telling you the method is nearly the same as above, except without chicken. My standard weekly cold weather soup is just a veggie soup. I saute onion and garlic with whatever veggies I have on hand – this week was a handful of chopped string beans, some broccoli, carrots, celery, cabbage and tomato. I’m big on tomato to flavor the broth in my veggie soup. I also added a handful of red lentils which cook down into nothing, adding a little body to the broth and a little protein too.

So. Olive oil! Chopped veggies! Water! Salt, pepper, garlic powder, dill, parsley, in, in, in! And just let it simmer. And simmer. Taste it and adjust your seasonings. Add chicken, or boil pasta or rice to throw in. Throw some grilled shrimp or parmesan cheese in. The possibilities are endless, and think about how many veggies you get into one dish!

And that’s it. Ilana’s first treatise on the wonders of soup is complete. If you’re a soup beginning, grab a pot and go! If you’re a seasoned (pun intended) soup maker, I’d love to know your favorite recipes!

Uncategorized

Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes and Comfort Food

October 5, 2016
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Whenever we buy bananas at our house, I may as well assume that we will have two or three leftover in the fruit bowl- squishy and overly ripe. It happens every time. They are perfect for banana bread, but I’ve played this game too many times recently…and impossible though it may seem, I am tired of banana bread. Banana bread and I are on a break, although I was feeling guilty and wasteful for potentially throwing away food. However, I remembered the delicious banana and strawberry pancakes that our friends made us when Indy was born. They were healthy and rather filling, not like fluffy buttermilk pancakes (which are obviously very good in their own right). I remember being very full after eating only one. Our friends also pre-wrapped and froze them for us, so that we could defrost one whenever we needed a convenient breakfast.

With all of this in mind, I hunted down a recipe that I thought seemed similar. I found this one on pinterest and adjusted it slightly to make more, and I added a little olive oil and substituted milk for an almond/coconut blend. The recipe came out great, and its simplicity ensures that you probably have most of these ingredients in your home right now. I hope you try it the next time you are making a lazy Saturday breakfast or on a Sunday night for make ahead breakfasts during the week. These pancakes are indeed the ultimate filling and comforting breakfast to eat on a chilly morning!

Speaking of comfort food, what have you been cooking recently? My husband and I have been cooking at home a lot more often recently, and it has been so nice. We’ve definitely fallen into the habit of eating around the coffee table in a hurry, so its nice to slow down and set the table and just sit, eat and talk. Two of our favorite meals have been The Pioneer Woman’s BBQ Meatballs (very kitschy and not for the food snob- I am warning you!) with mashed potatoes and crockpot chicken and biscuits (made with a roux, not with cream of chicken soup). I used the crockpot for the chicken and veggies, and made the roux on the stove with the chicken and veggie broth from the crockpot. I recommend making homemade biscuits, or using bisquick. When I decided to really cheat and use a can of biscuits, the bottoms got soggy and never cooked properly.  The next comfort foods that I am craving are vegetarian chili and butternut squash soup with garlic bread.

Although this season of life has been busy, it has also been wonderful. Our boy is growing quickly and developing a sweet and social little personality. Sadly his really good newborn sleep habits have regressed, so we are doing some gentle sleep training. It’s more of a fuss though and learn to connect those sleep cycles than a cry it out situation. The weather has been really cool and pleasant, and there have been fun things going on around town despite the fact that summer is officially over. We are relishing our last few outdoor Green Markets, and I recently took home a big grocery bag of books from the library book sale for $2! I am currently reading Nora Ephron’s first novel Heartburn when the little man lets me have some down time.  So far, I am finding that it is darkly funny and lends itself to being picked up for only a few minutes at a time, which is usually all I get. As for television, Outlander has been very good, and I’ve been indulging in my guilty pleasure Married at First Sight. It’s seriously addicting, and before you judge…two couples from season one are still happily married. Has anyone started watching This Is Us? Mandy Moore and Jess from Gilmore Girls are in it. I’ve cried during both episodes. Ugly crying, and this show has lots of twists.

Anyway, we are looking forward to doing some apple picking this weekend! I have applesauce to can before Friendsgiving and Thanksgiving! Anyone doing any canning this fall? img_3944  img_3916

Cooking Gardening Life

It’s not easy being green

September 30, 2016

I have a lot in common with Kermit the Frog. I’ve been known to flail my arms in the air like boneless wet noodles when I’m excited, and I use the phrase “it’s not easy being green” fairly often. Usually it’s in self deprecation, when my husband has responded to something I’ve told him and I just sigh and tell him, “what can I say, it’s not easy being green.”

This post however, isn’t actually about Kermit the Frog, or my pithy comments, but actual real green stuff.

Namely avocados, olives, basil and figs.

I’ve been stuck on both lately. Avocados in New York are not at their best prices of the year, but I’ve been buying them anyway. I recently did my now traditional annual olive curing. And basil, well, it’s coming to that time where my summer garden is nearing the end of it’s natural life and I’m trying to harvest what I can to keep.

First, avocados

avocadoI love avocados. We make guacamole, avocado toast with runny eggs on top, and avocado salsa. I’ve even made lemony avocado pasta sauce. It’s slightly odd, but surprisingly good.

You know what else is awesome? Tacos. I just want to be sure, do we all realize how easy tacos are to make? Grill meat or shrimp, or fry fish (or often in my case, cook some beans), warm up some corn or flour tortillas, and put the filling on the tortilla. You can add shredded lettuce or cabbage, salsa, diced tomatoes, etc. It’s really so simple, and it’s so easy to take it from a boring little roll up to outstanding. Dicing up a mango and dropping a spoonful on top of grilled shrimp adds an awesome tropical flavor. Or, my personal favorite, the 5 minute avocado salsa.

Ready? Dice a tomato or two. Cut an avocado in half and draw the knife lengthwise then widthwise and use a spoon to scoop out neat little chunks. Toss your avocado with the tomato, plus a little lime juice, salt, pepper, dried cilantro if you have and onion powder (or use fresh diced onion, I just can’t eat raw onions so I opt for powder). The acidity of the tomato, tang of the lime juice and creaminess of the avocado really amplifies and compliments the rest of your ingredients.

Second, olives

olives2 weekends ago I cured 16 pounds of olives with the help of my sister in law and my future sister in law. While Little Miss napped, we took all sorts of aggression out on these olives, crushing and cracking them before putting them in their jars. We used my grandfather’s method (which can be found here) and successfully filled 13 jars with only a minimal amount of difficulty. To fully cure, they need to sit 40 days, so I am (im)patiently awaiting the end of that period.

Last year, my grandfather taught me how to cure olives. He passed in March of this year, and the months since have been filled with those odd moments where I almost forget he is gone, or I do things that in the past I may have done with him or asked him about, or things I learned from him. I was afraid that olive curing would make me an emotional mess, but my sisters in law were an extraordinary team that kept me on task. Nonetheless, I’m extremely grateful for having had the opportunity to learn from grandpa last year.

Third, basil

basilBasil! I’m half Italian, so an affinity for basil is in my blood. I planted several rows of basil in my garden this year and then grew into bushy, unruly bundles of leaves which I’ve been selectively picking from for cooking for months. But, it’s the end of September and everything left in the garden will be dying off soon.

If you’re in the same boat, here’s my tip – I pick the basil leaves, wash them and let them dry, then lay them into a freezer bag and freeze them so even in the dead of winter, I can crumble off some fresh basil. Once it’s in the pot with whatever I’m cooking, you’d never know it was frozen.

Yes, there’s always dried basil, which I have and use…but it’s not the same. You know it’s not the same.

Fourth, figs

figsThis is simple excitement. It’s fig season! My two fig trees are producing slowly but steadily, with me picking a couple of figs each day.

I’m not going to lie, the fig trees were not the selling point on this house, but they certainly didn’t hurt. Between the fig trees, the screen porch, and the italian neighbors who talk loudly in their yard (stop laughing, I seriously find it comforting even though I have no idea what they’re saying), it just felt right.

And as it turns out, Little Miss is a fan of figs and has threatened the entire crop with her enthusiasm.

So that’s my green round up for right now. We’re heading into the season of reds, yellows and oranges, so I guess it’s good that I get all this green out of my system now. What’s been keeping you busy lately?

Baking

Farmhouse Rules, Biscuits and Vegan Butter

September 14, 2016

Vegan butter. Oxymoronic, right? Butter is made from milk, and milk comes from an animal, so….

I know, not everyone is as used to the concept of “vegan dairy products” as we are around here. Vegan butter is made from various oils but gives the approximate taste and feel of real butter; it comes in tubs to spread and also comes in sticks for baking and cooking.

Back in early September, I ended up with a box of Earth Balance vegan butter sticks. Prepping for my dad’s gluten free, dairy free birthday cake, I grabbed the box in the supermarket, forgetting I didn’t actually need it for the recipe I had chosen. It was a lucky mistake though; when my coconut whipped cream refused to whip because it was too warm, I was able to just mix up a quick batch of vegan buttercream to top the cake with. Of course, this didn’t use up the whole box, so I had extra for my next little project.

Fast forward to this past Friday. I’m trying to tidy up the house, fold laundry, finish up some work and pack for a weekend upstate. But Little Miss is crabby, and asking to watch her show. I turn the television on planning to put on a 20 minute Netflix kids show for her while I shower. The cable box had been left on, and the channel left on the Food Network. As the TV blinks to life, I see the sign for Fix Brothers orchards in good old Columbia County, New York.

Hang on, what?

Long story short, a rerun of Farmhouse Rules was on. The show is your typical cooking show, starring Nancy Fuller – mom, grandmother and traditional cook – set in Columbia County, where she lives. I realize that to most people, this is quaint yet meaningless. For me however, seeing Nancy visit places I’ve been going to my entire life is fairly exciting!

With half an eye on the television and half an eye on my cell phone, I quickly looked up the show and the recipe for the lemon and sugar mini biscuits that were being made on the show…because with so much to do, why wouldn’t I add baking into the mix?

I’m going to link you straight over to the recipe, right HERE.

biscuitsIt’s a pretty quick and easy recipe. I mixed everything, zested the lemons and had the dough in the fridge to chill pretty quickly, and that’s with a two year old dancing around my feet. Once it had a little time to chill, I rolled it out and cut it with a 1.5″ circle cookie cutter while my little assistant looked on. I rolled them a touch thinner than they should have been, but they puffed up nicely in the oven, even with my alteration.

What was my alteration? Vegan butter, of course. In place of butter and buttermilk, I used the Earth Balance vegan butter and cashew milk and I still wound up with relatively moist, fluffy little biscuits. The egg wash across the top gave it some nice color, though you can easily forgo the egg wash to make it fully vegan and not just non dairy. These biscuits are not very sweet, but were absolutely perfect with a little butter or jam on top.

This post is rambling. I’m sorry. But seriously, if you’re a biscuit person, this simple recipe is well worth trying in it’s original format or non dairy.

Uncategorized

I made lemon bars, and you should too.

August 30, 2016
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Anyone else feel like they still have one foot in summer, and the other in fall? I won’t lie, my pinterest boards are filled with pumpkin recipes and ankle boots, but part of me has just begun to enjoy the summer now that it’s no longer 95 degrees out! My husband and I feel a little bit as though we’ve skipped summer. We just didn’t see the point of dragging our newborn out into the brutal heat. However, a recent trip to Lake George with family has us wanting to squeeze every last bit of enjoyment out of the summer season. This means walks at night with Indy and our dogs, and afternoons spent sitting on a blanket on the lawn, drinking a beer and watching our little guy kick around. We’ve been able to shut off the air conditioning and open the windows wide, sheer curtains billowing about in a scene that always reminds me of The Great Gatsby.  Do you remember the part when Daisy and Gatsby see each other for the first time in years, and she is lounging around, trying to stay cool with her friend Jordan? Fitzgerald mentions the curtains blowing around in the breeze, and although it isn’t important, it is an image that always stuck with me. So, until pumpkin spice lattes return to Starbucks, I’ll be over here ignoring the siren song of mums on front stoops, fuzzy socks, and chili in the crockpot. Well, mostly ignoring (surreptitiously sips iced pumpkin coffee from Dunkin). Those days will come soon enough!

In the spirit of enjoying summer, I’d like to share a recipe for lemon bars. To me, they are a summer dessert- probably because they remind me of lemonade. It’s the perfect time to bake them now that the temperature has dropped slightly. I’ve been thinking about lemon bars since a sweet friend from church brought us some for dessert after baby boy’s birth. This isn’t the exact recipe she used, but it is a good one. I made these for my husband over the weekend, and we’ve been enjoying them! I’m sharing the link for the original recipe that I made, but also, the alterations that I made today to make these lemon bars gluten and dairy free to accommodate members of my family who have dietary restrictions. I also made a version with lime juice to change things up! My husband and I found both versions to be delicious- but the gluten and dairy free version is a little less rich, with a more crumbly crust. I may need to experiment with different types of flour to make the crust comparable to the original recipe. Does anyone have any suggestions? I also may add a drop of food coloring to the lime bars next time or top them with lime zest so that I can tell the bars apart! I’m excited to share them with family soon. Give these a try and enjoy the last bits of your summer:)

Lemon Bars

For the crust:

1 cup of soft, but not fully melted coconut oil (or butter for the dairy version)

1/2 cup white granulated sugar

2 cups of gluten free flour (or regular for the wheat version)

For the lemon filling:

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups of white granulated sugar

1/4 cup of gluten free flour (or regular for the wheat version)

2/3 cup of lemon juice

powdered sugar for topping

or a Lime Version:

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups of white granulated sugar

1/4 cup gluten free flour (or regular for the wheat version)

2/3 cup of lime juice

1 table spoon of lemon juice

powdered sugar for topping

Directions:

Line a 9×13 pan with tin foil, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix together your crust ingredients and press the dough down flat in the pan until the whole thing is covered. Bake in the oven for about 18 minutes. While the crust is baking, mix the lemon filling in a stand mixer or blender until the filling is frothy. When the crust is done baking, pour the lemon mixture over the top and bake for 20 minutes.

Once the bars have cooled, chill in the refridgerator for two hours. Remove the bars from the pans, and peel off all of the foil.  Right before you serve the bars, cut them into squares and top them with powdered sugar.

 

 

Life

This time last year

August 27, 2016

This time last year, Kristen and I started writing here on Old Fashioned Modern Living. Months and months before, I was standing in Kristen’s kitchen telling her about one of my projects when she said, “you know, you should start a blog.” And I responded “you’re the writer…I’ll blog if you do it too.”

Plenty of text messages bounced back and forth before we decided on a name, I bought the URL and hosting and set up the basics. Then in August we decided it was time to go. We chose a theme for the site, I got things ready and we started blogging. The funny thing is, I never even finished the site; there are still a lot of things I wanted to implement that I never got around to.

But anyway, we started writing. About cooking and crafting and life, and an amazing thing happened. People started reading what we were writing. Not a ton of people, mind you, but people. And that was pretty cool. And hey, if you’re reading this now – thanks for being here. It means so much to us that people take the time to read our posts and click ‘like’ or leave a comment. We know you’re all busy, and it means the world to us that you’re on this journey with us.

A little background here, I’m no fun on New Years Eve. Everyone’s talking about the GREAT NEW YEAR they’ll have and I’m like, it’s tomorrow. Tomorrow is just another day. Point is, I don’t do this “celebrating time” thing too well. And honestly, as a work at home mom, I often feel like I don’t do very much at all. I can’t talk about my promotions, my fancy trips or the concerts I’ve gone to. I’m home, a lot.

As I started thinking about this post, I realized that a lot has changed in the past year. And maybe I don’t have big accomplishments to talk about, the kind you shout from the rooftops and receive glowing praise for, but that’s okay. Sure, some not so good things have happened this past year (but I’m not going to talk about that here, I’m going to keep this positive), but I have been involved in and surrounded by some amazing things and honestly, that’s enough.

Professional

  • 1year-sdsIn September of 2015, I started my little jewelry design business, Seashore Design Studio. I remember the first time I picked up that handheld torch and cut into my fine silver wire, the excitement, the accomplishment. I took my time learning and practicing, and have met some absolutely amazing people along the way, and then in late spring of 2016 I did a soft relaunch with new signature items, lovely promo images and a new set of goals. I’m in the process of re-vamping my website to be an eCommerce site in addition to my Etsy shop, and I’m excited to have that ready!
  • Just last month I became an Unfranchise Owner with Market America. This is a very interesting business opportunity, and it allows me to help people save and earn money on online purchases via my shopping portal, and help people find some of the best vitamin supplements on the market, as well as natural cleaning and homecare products and top notch cruelty free, vegan makeup. Plus I’ve been taking those very same vitamins and my seasonal allergies are all but gone, I’m sleeping better and I’m feeling more energized. Not bad.

Cooking, canning and home

  • 1year-jamLast year I jarred my first batch of homemade tomato sauce, and cured my first olives.
  • In this past year I’ve done my first canning (by myself, as opposed to watching my mother do it), making a whole load of peach, blueberry and strawberry jam. As I write this, I am actually standing in my kitchen stepping between my laptop on the counter and pot of glittery, boiling blueberries cooking down into a lovely blueberry-lime jam.
  • I’ve utterly fallen in love with my cast iron dutch oven and have learned how to do a number of damn good stovetop slow cooked dishes.
  • I’ve learned to be adventurous in the kitchen, baking breads and cookies without recipes, just based upon my own knowledge.
  • I’ve discovered broccoli rabe. I always though I didn’t like it. I was wrong.
  • I’ve taken on a number of (small) home improvement projects, and am finally getting somewhat used to being a homeowner.

Personal

  • I’ve seen two friends get married, and my brother got engaged to my best friend from high school. Go figure!
  • I got to meet my first nephew, Kristen’s adorable little guy. He is delightful, Little Miss adores him, and I am so incredibly glad he is part of the family.
  • I’ve gone from “acquaintance” level to “soul sister” level with two incredible local moms who I am so utterly grateful for. Although we have different backgrounds and experiences, our base personalities are very similar and we understand each other on a level that I never expected.
  • I’ve been lucky enough to watch as a local mama and friend (and her delightful sister) got their business off the ground in a most spectacular way. You may have seen me talk about babywearing on this blog. If you’re looking for a woven wrap, look into Emmeline Textiles. I can’t say enough good things about them.
  • I have a toddler.

1year-lilyI need to expand upon that last bullet. I have a toddler. At this time last year, I still had a baby. Little Miss was all round head and chunky limbs, scooting herself around the floor. She hadn’t yet taken her first step, and certainly hadn’t uttered a word. Now…she’s tall, she’s running and going up and down steps, she’s saying words and doing things on her own. It’s not “will she cry” anymore, it’s “what is this tiny person with a mind of her own going to do, say or pantomime”. She is very much herself (and herself is awesome, by the way); a tough cookie with an infectious laugh, mischievous smile and the capacity to understand more than I ever expected.

Watching her change and grow has been really incredible. Being a mom is an exercise in a lot of things, including humility. Last year, it was still about me; I was in charge. Now, I think she’s kind of in charge. Not really, but you know what I mean. She doesn’t just go where I go and stay where I put her. She makes decisions and makes requests. She’s experimenting, learning and getting to know her world. And I get to be her steward, making sure she doesn’t get into too much trouble and doesn’t behave too badly, while allowing her enough freedom to experience things for herself. Through this, I have found within myself a patience and calm that I’m not sure I knew was there before.

It’s funny, I had Little Miss’ name picked out for years and years (luckily, my husband liked it enough to agree to it). And now, she turned two this summer, and at time I’ll write an email and mention her and stop and think, “wait, this is real? I really have a daughter?” I’m still somewhat in awe of her. Does that ever go away?

So all in all, not too bad for a year I barely considered. Thanks again for reading, and cheers to our next year!

Uncategorized

The Truth About Cloth Diapers

August 25, 2016
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Hello friends! Now that my son has been wearing cloth diapers for almost two months n0w, I feel like I can give you an honest review of what cloth diapering has been like for us. I did promise to share the good, the bad, and the ugly! Please excuse my fuzzy iPhone photos! I slowly began transitioning to mostly cloth diapers when my son was about a month old, and he stopped pooping a zillion times a day! This was also the time that little Indy began to chunk up a bit to fill out the diaper. I no longer have anything to worry about in the chunk department- this kid is a 13 lb 11 week old!

Honestly, cloth diapers are a little bit more of a pain than disposables. You need to prewash brand new cloth diapers before the first use according to their instructions. Disposables have easy tabs, and that telltale line that turns blue when the diaper is soiled. They are super convenient to use when you have a newborn and are tracking the number of dirty diapers.  You take them and throw them into the trash when they are soiled. They are more absorbent for longer periods of time than cloth. But…

I noticed that Indy stopped getting diaper rashes quite as frequently when we switched to mostly cloth diapers. I think maybe the chemicals in the disposables were irritating his already sensitive skin. And…

there are so many different types of cloth diapers that it is easy to find out what works best for your baby and your lifestyle.  I definitely recommend trying a few different ones if you get the opportunity to. I was lucky to be gifted a stash of gently used diapers before I gave birth. This has allowed me to find my favorites, and purchase more of what works for us in larger sizes. The diapers I purchased can be worn from about 8-35 lbs.  I am a big fan of the Bumgenius All In One diapers. All In One means that they have no separate parts or inserts. I love that there is no stuffing or prep required. I think I will like them even better once Indy is a little older and they aren’t quite so bulky on him! Be aware that these diapers are pretty bulky and will make newborn clothing tight before your baby has officially outgrown that size! Indy has been filling out some larger sizes of clothing while wearing cloth.

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I also like Thirsties and Flips diaper covers. With these, you simply place an absorbent insert inside and change that out when it is soiled. Then you can wipe off the cover (as long as it isn’t too messy) with a wipe. It’s pretty cost effective because you get more uses out of each diaper, and inserts are cheaper than diapers. These sound like they would not hold as much- but both brands of diapers recently contained two really big messes without leaks! I also love the fact that these are not nearly as bulky as other diapers. Pictured here are two covers, one with the insert, and one without.

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The other style of diapers that I have tried are pocket diapers. For now, I think that these are okay. They work well, but they have the bulk of an All In One without the convenience- because they must be stuffed. The inserts are stuffed inside, so once the insert is dirty, so is the entire diaper. However- I’ve heard people say that they love these and find them to be more absorbent because you can stuff them with whatever type of insert that you want, and you can add more inserts for a heavy wetter. I am keeping an open mind about these because I may find that I love them once Indy starts wearing cloth overnight. The brands that I have tried are Rumparooz, Thirsties, Fuzzibuns, and Bumgenius.

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Once I got into a good routine, cloth diapering baby boy turned out to not be quite as big of a pain as I was expecting. I have a wet bag inside my diaper pail, and one in my diaper bag for when we are going out. The wet bags have done a good job of containing the mess and smell so far, and I simply throw them into the wash with my diapers. My wash routine is simple, and I do it every other day. I use Bumgenius detergent, and do a warm wash, a heavy duty hot wash, and then a cold rinse. I’ll throw a little bleach in the hot wash about once every few weeks. I hang dry the all in one diapers and covers, and throw the inserts into the dryer. If a diaper is extra messy, I will spray it off in the toilet before I throw it in the pail. I do plan on investing in a diaper sprayer shield due to some recent splatter!

All in all, I am really pleased with cloth diapering. We are definitely saving money, and the amount of work has not been a huge impact to our lifestyle. I still use disposables on trips and overnight, but I am hoping to start trying cloth overnight once my little guys habits change a bit!

Cooking Uncategorized

Our Favorite Enchiladas

August 13, 2016

Oh man, guys. This is one of our favorite meals ever. We make them at home, and order them out at Mexican restaurants.  Any excuse to eat enchiladas and we are all over it. Make these enchiladas for someone, and you’ll have a new best friend instantly. They are that good! I first made these for my husband’s 24th birthday the first year we were married. I was still learning to cook and I was shocked that I successfully completed a seemingly complicated recipe.  I used the Pioneer Woman’s Recipe from her first cookbook as a guideline, but over the years, we’ve changed things up a bit- and you can too! I’ve made these with meat, vegetarian, and dairy free with vegan cheese. Once you get the general idea- its so easy to customize your filling. It’s all good! Even though making enchiladas is quite the process, it really is not difficult once you establish a system. There are a lot of steps- but they are all easy!  Bonus points if you have a buddy help you because you can create an assembly line- but you can do this alone.

 

You’ll Need:

1 Rotisserie chicken, completely shredded  (or you could use black beans or lentils)

1 small can of green chiles

Half of a pepper, diced

half of a small onion, diced

1 small bunch of cilantro, minced

Penzey’s Taco Seasoning

1 package corn tortillas

1 large can and 1 small can of red enchilada sauce

shredded mexican blend of cheese (or vegan cheese for the lactose intolerant among us- or just skip the cheese)

Vegetable oil (for frying)

Start by sautéing the diced pepper and onion.

Once they are soft, add them to a big bowl. Mix in the chicken, can of chiles, and a half cup of the cheese. Add a tablespoon of the minced cilantro and a tablespoon of taco seasoning.

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Next, heat vegetable oil on your stove top and bring it to about medium heat. You can always adjust the temperature if things are cooking too quickly.

While the oil is heating, pour some enchilada sauce into a shallow bowl. Add some of the sauce to the bottom of a casserole dish. Take the tortillas out and set them on top of the bag. Put your bowl of enchilada filling on the counter next to that. Now it’s time to grab some tongs and start frying!

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Fry both sides of a corn tortilla. I usually wait until one side puffs up, flip it, and fry the other for about 30 seconds. I would like to add that I always end up breaking one of my first tortillas. If this happens to you, don’t be sad. Just go easier with those tongs! Next, use the tongs to transfer the tortilla to the bowl of sauce and dunk it in.

I always end up burning my fingers a little because I grab the tortilla out of the sauce with my hands, because the tongs always rip them at this point. Do this at your own risk! Place the enchilada in the casserole dish, add some filling, and then roll the tortilla over so that it is pinned closed by its own weight. Then you get back in there, and do it again until you run out of filling or tortillas or both!

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Once your casserole dishes are full and your fingerprints are sufficiently burned off, douse your enchiladas in a generous amount of enchilada sauce and an unholy amount of cheese.

The next step is to bake them at 350 until everything is melted, and maybe a hint browned on top- about 15 minutes. Add some fresh minced cilantro to the top and serve! If you are making these ahead, you can stick the casserole dish in the fridge and just bake them a little before you intend to serve them.

These go great with a shredded lettuce salad, a side of refried beans, and maybe some spanish rice! They  are also great on their own. Or with a Margherita (if you do this- only a little sour mix guys- mostly tequila and lime juice, and just have one because we are responsible adults.) At the very least serve them with some chips, salsa, and guacamole.

Enjoy!

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