Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cranberry cake ,anyone ?

One of the things I love about the holiday season is Cranberries.

There are so many ways that you can use them; salsas, drinks, cakes, relish, the list can go on and on, but it is sort of sad ( well to me it is ) that fresh ones are only available for, 60 or so days then they are gone till next year.
fresh cranberries

Now don't get me wrong, dried ones are great too, but there is just something about a fresh cranberry. The taste ,texture, they way it just explodes in your mouth , the hint of tang it can add to a dish , whether it is meat or a baked good. You just don't get that with dried ones.

screaming to be used :)
Now, the hard part for me is trying to find just the right recipe to use the cranberries in , one that will not be to difficult for me to convert to GF and that I already have all the ingredients for ( I hate having to run to the commissary for missing ingredients )

And today I was lucky, Shelly from Simple Abundance just happened to have just the recipe I was looking for , Cranberry Almond Pound Cake, not to hard and not to simple , but just right ! :0)
Plus, I had all the ingredients , too !!

the ingredients, minus the flour

The recipe for the cranberry almond pound cake was really simple and I did not have to alter it to much for it to be GF or to my taste buds :)

I used;

1 1/4 cup of Truvia
1 cup + 3 TBS of butter ( used Parkay)
1 1/2 tsp of almond extract
1/2 tsp of butter extract
6 eggs
1cup of Greek yogurt ( I used Chobani)
75 mL of water
1/4 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp of baking soda
1/2 tsp of fine sea salt
3 cups of AP GF flour ( I used Better Batter flour)
2 cups of fresh cranberries

and for the glaze:

2 TBS of water
1 1/2 cup of powdered sugar

Other than having to adjust the ingredient list I followed her mixing instructions to a "T"

all ready for the pan

I did bake mine at 330F ( my oven is off by 5 degrees) for 1 hr and 5m.

and ready for the oven
Now waiting an hour plus for something to bake is really hard to do, okay, maybe it is just hard for ME to do.
before the icing

 The smell of this was heaven and I admit I was sort of salivating when I took it from the oven, but then it hit me I had to wait another 20m for it cool before I could put the icing on it :(.

with icing
But, this was SO worth the wait.

the first piece went to Gabriel

This was a very moist bundt cake , with just the right amount of sweetness and tart to it.
The only thing I would change for next time is to add either some almond or vanilla extract to the glaze, to give it a bit more flavor, other than the "powdered sugar " flavor, but over all everyone seemed to the enjoy it.

what was left of the cake

At least I think they did, what do you think ? :0)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Going for a cleaner life

Here lately I have been trying to cook cleaner for my family. By that I mean the types of foods we eat :)
Nothing really to drastic , just some minor changes here and there to foods that we use only on an ALMOST daily basis  or ones that I find myself buying every time a do a major commissary shopping trip, which is every two weeks.
As well as the amount of fast food that we consume and where we consume it from.

Did not want to send the family into "food shock".

It all started when I came across this website Deliciously organic , by fellow military wife Carrie Vitt, and this site 100 Days of real food.

These wives/mothers have seen how the world around us has changed and how those changes have effected not only the quality of the foods that we eat ,but also our health.
And they chose to do something about it, starting small , but still starting.

These ladies inspired me and made me take a REALLY hard look at what and how my own family eats.
From the convenient, pre-packaged foods to the , sometimes 3x weekly , drive thru meals , that were not only taking its toll on our health, but also on our "quality " of family time.

When you are eating you are not really thinking about what it is that you are putting into your body.
I mean who REALLY thinks about where the chicken they are eating came from, what the canned/bottled fruit contains other than fruit or how that sports drink you are guzzling down after that hard workout really does more bad than good for you in the over all big picture and what is really inside of that burger from XYZ burger place  really made of. ( I know I did not and still don't at times).

But , when it comes to my health and the health of my family I decided it was time I did.

So I set out to see where I could incorporate minor changes, but changes non the less. That would not cause my family to revolt against me :) or drive them to want to flog me.

I started with something simple, whip cream, I do not really buy tub whip cream very often unless I am making a fruit salad, but I do buy canned whip cream often. Plus it is only one ingredient, if you don't add "flavoring".

main ingredient is the canned coconut milk

  The kids like it on their waffles, smoothies,  pudding, fruit and of course who does not like whip cream on their ice cream :)

You have to place the can in the frig for at least 24 hrs to help firm the cream that is on top .
After you open the can you need to separate the thick cream from the coconut milk. Leaving only the milk in the can and placing the cream in a mixing bowl.
milk in can and cream in bowl
 It was fun trying to see if I could get ALL of the cream out of the can, as you can see I did not do to bad of a job , if I have to say so myself:)

Once you have the cream in the bowl add ":flavoring" if you choose.
I chose cinnamon and vanilla for my first time out.
the cream with my "flavoring" of choice
I did not measure the amount of cinnamon or vanilla, it was done to taste.

Then you mix with a hand-mixer, using the whisk attachment, until the cream becomes firm or whipped looking. You can not over mix it, but it takes about 3-5min for it to become a good whip cream texture.
Gabriel is  mixing it for me
the finish product
a closer pix of the "whip cream"

Afterwards I placed it in a storage bowl and it kept for a week, well more like the kids at it all in a week :)

a home made banana split topped with home made whip cream
Riding on a "high" after having made the whip cream I decided I wanted to tackle something a little harder,but still stick with only one ingredient, so I chose to make peanut butter.

( if you get a chance read what your average store bought PB is made of even the Natural ones, it might surprise you)
Instead of buying a bag of peanuts and de-shelling them I chose to just buy a jar of peanuts.
the jar of peanuts and my food processor

This was a hard change for Sasha and I , we both LOVE PB, well she likes it I LOVE IT , but hey who is keeping notes :).

I had placed all the peanuts in my food processor and when I went to turn it on , nothing, I think I blew the motor awhile back and did not realize it.

all ready
So I had to transfer all the peanuts to my blender.

ready, again:)
Once transferred the process of making the peanut butter was so simple and quick.
I just put my blender on the cream setting and let it run its course.

bottom is creaming
The peanuts go through 3 stages total .

right before it reaches creamy state
It takes about 5m to make the peanut butter, but it is SO worth it. I have never stated anything like it before.
 ( Ian decided to play with my shoes when I was making the peanut butter:)
Ian in my shoes

the finished peanut butter
Now the problem I have is staying on top of making it. It seems that between baking with it, and eating it , it goes pretty fast :)

These are just a few simple, baby steps that I have taken in helping my family eat cleaner,so far.

It really does not seem like a HUGE step in the grand scheme of things, but to me a baby step is better than no steps at all :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Pear and Ginger Muffins made GF style

After having posted about some Fall recipes that I had found and wanted to try , I found myself having some "free" time ( as if there is such a thing when you have a 20m old and homeschool two older kiddos :) and so I decided that I would try my hand at giving a gluten filled recipe a GF "face lift". :0)

There are so many recipes that Lori , from, has posted on her site that it was REALLY hard for me to choose just ONE and not stay in my kitchen ALL day long and bake, but I did finally decided on one recipe and it was;

 Pear and Ginger Muffins

The recipe was really well written and the direction were SUPER EASY to follow and the best part is that I already had everything I need so there was no last minute trip to the commissary for missing "items".

the ingredients  

The best part about baking for me is that no matter what I am making there is always someone in the house that is willing to lend a helping hand and this time it was Sasha.
my "helper" of the day
Once Sasha was finished cutting up the pears , I was able to take over the counter and "get to" mixing.
There really weren't to many ingredients that I needed to alter to make this GF, other an I used an AP GF flour, 3 eggs and 2 TBS of honey, everything else I was able to follow the recipe to a T.
my wet and dry bowls
As an after thought, after the wet and dry ingredients were combined, I decided to toss in a cup full of chocolate chips.
my after thought
all mixed and ready for the muffin pan
I could not find all my re-useable muffin liners, so I went "bare" when baking these.
I also have been reading a lot about "real" foods here lately so I decided I wanted to try topping one batch with raw cane sugar and the other with the brown sugar the recipe called for.
first batch ready for the oven
( I accidentally deleted the picture of the 1st batch fresh from the oven :( But, let me assure you it was a pretty light golden brown color and tasted yummy.

second batch ready for baking
The second batch , which had the brown sugar, came out all nice and caramel brown looking on top, but there was a just a hint of a sweeter taste to the top than the batch with the cane sugar.

second batch fresh from the oven

Over all I was greatly impressed with both batches. I liked, okay more like loved, both equally.
And the added chocolate chips just enhanced the flavor of the pears in a very nice way.

Can not wait to make these again, and they actually freeze very well and taste just as good 4 days later. ;-)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Bullied enough, yet???


I do not understand bullying. Nor do I understand the parents of the child who is doing the bullying.

I know that we all like to think that our child would or could NEVER do such a horrific thing, BUT if you are given evidence time and time again and choose to do nothing about it then , to me, your are just as guilty of committing the act, too.

Statistics show that 1 in 7 kids are either a bully or are being bullied.
·    "  Research over the past decade suggests that, among US middle school students, approx 7.5% -13% bullied others, 10.6%-20.7% were victimized; and 1-13% engaged in both bullying/victimization (Batsche&Knoff, 1994; Cunningham, 2007; Dema2002). Ray & Maloecki, 2003; Kauffman, 1998: Nansel et. Al., 2001; Seals & Young, 2003; Unnever, 2005; Wenxin, 2002), Based on review of the bullying/victimization literature, it is clear that these are relatively common phenomena for middle school students. "

And when asked , teachers typically underestimate the levels of bullying and victimization in their schools.

 "In a study conducted by the Secret Service and the US Department of Education, researchers noted that 71% of the attackers felt persecuted, bullied, threatened, attacked or injured by others prior to the incident  "​Bullying_​Facts.doc

Kids who are bullied can experience depression, anxiety and health issues , as well as negative feelings about their physical appearance.

As if it is not hard enough to be a teen, when you throw in bulling and adults who choose to not listen or act, it is no wonder that children who are bullied are 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-bullied children.

So I ask what are we, as parents supposed to do?

We send our children out into the world, whether it be to school , church, etc. , where we put our faith and trust into the adult that is there to lead/guide them, only to find out that the entrusted adult is turning a blind eye/ear to what our children are saying to them.

 We tell our children to "turn the other cheek", that "two wrongs don't make a right", to " walk away", but what kind of message are we ultimately sending to our children when the bullying continues , time and time again, and you have done what you, as the parent feel is right, and still nothing is done about it?

We tell our children to " stay in a group" setting, to surround yourself with trusted friends, but what happens when those people just stand by and watch it all take place and say nothing at all?

You reach out to the the teacher to explain the situation and nothing is done, or worse yet you advise the parents and STILL nothing is done, but to increase the amount of bulling your child endures.

We can equip  our children with all the knowledge and advice that we are parents have, but what if that is not enough?

Is there more that we could/should be doing? And if so what? 

Is there a piece to the puzzle that we are missing, that will help us put an end to this?

If so I would like to know!!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Welcome Fall, I think??

The weather here in Central Louisiana has been acting like a TEASE here lately. It has been playing with my inner child, offering me a brief glimpse of Autumn weather and then taking it away, and leaving me only wanting more.

 Showing me what it is like to leave your windows open all day, only to wake up at 0300 to close them because your freezing, but not quite to the point where you are ready to even consider putting the flannel sheets on the bed.
But, then making me close up the house the next day because of 90F temps.

It has planted the seed of Fall dressing in my head; jeans, scarfs, deck shoes, loafers or even Keds, and cute shirts that only the thought of FALL brings to mind.
Then it erases it just as fast when I have to pull a pair of shorts out of the drawer and reach for the ponytail holder to complete my "look" for the day.

But, the worst of it is the NEED to bake,and I am not talking about just any sort of baking , OH NO, but the FALL inspired baking.
The sort of baking that leaves your house smelling like an apple orchard, or a fresh pear or even a pumpkin patch in late afternoon when all the pumpkins have been sitting under that Autumn sun all day.

And it is this need that sent me to the internet yesterday in search of Fall inspired recipes only to come across this site, where I found such recipes as;
pear and ginger muffins
baked pumpkin pie oatmeal
pumpkin coffee cake
apple cider brread
and a few others that I pinned last night as I was putting Ian to bed, that I will be revamping and baking , GF style, over the next few weeks ( and posting pix of course :)

So if FALL has been TEASING you , I say go WITH IT!!
Close up those windows, crank up the A/C, put on those jeans and BAKE till your heart is content and your house smells like FALL :)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Unarmed and NOT READY

When you are sitting in re-deployment classes and listening to all these "specialists" talk about how long  re-integration could take, how there are steps that you and your spouse, and your kids too, should follow to make it a smooth as possible transition for all involved and how even your husband and your dog ( if you have one) will need time to get to know one another there seems to be some information that they forget to pass along to you.

That if your husband happens to be a wounded warrior that the "rule books" that apply to most families, will not apply to you, your kids, or your husband. And that re- integration will be the least of your worries and you might as well take that "rule book" and toss it out the window or use it to wipe your babies butt.

No one wants to tell you ;

That you will have good days, yes, but there will be more bad ones in between than you care to count.
How some days it is not the external wounds that your solider and you will have to battle , but the mental ones as well.
Like, the depression that not only affects him, but you also. That on some days you are so grateful that he came home to you, no matter what condition, but on others you actually wish he would not have.
( yes , I just admitted I have days that I wish G.I. Joe never came home).
 And that you will go to an means necessary to protect your kids from the same depression that is slowly turning the man that you love into a man that you would have never given one second look at 14 yrs ago, let alone have children with.
Or the fact that your soldier will wish himself dead instead of the 19 yr old boy he was supposed to protect, but chose to come home to see his new baby and wife for R&R, so was no where near the shooting when it happened. We call this survivors remorse, but G.I.Joe calls it nightly nightmares and night sweats.
Or how your soldier will become so angry at just the slightest thing, like dinner not being ready when he is ready to eat, even tho you have no way of knowing what time he will be home, or him having to remind a 5 yr old to do something more than once.
 How he would rather sit in his chair all weekend long instead of interacting with his family and when you mention this to him you have some how become the BIG B and don't understand anything he is going through.
The fact that you will now have to do not only the mommy things, but the daddy things too since your soldier can not bend, stoop, kneel, carry things, lift things, stand for long periods of time or sit for long periods of time. ( just like you did when he was deployed)
Or how you have to keep a watchful "ear" and "eye" ( with out him knowing ) out for your soldier because his lower body will go numb and he can fall over or out of something. ( the bed is a big one here in our house).
How the meds that are supposed to help him give him massive mood swings. Mood swings so bad that you just might need to kick him out of the house for a few days and that he will stop taking those meds to keep his family. But, no military doctor will change the prescription now that he is in the med board process so your soldier will now have to live in pain, daily, until he gets out and gets assigned to a doctor at the VA hospital.
Or the fact that he will develop a gambling problem, because it is the closest thing to the rush he feels when he is deployed that he is able to get at home with out " doing his job". And so now that money that you scrimped and saved while he was deployed will be gone with in a VERY short time frame.
And lets not forget that he will fall into a deep abyss, that you can't even save him from, because his self worth is tied up in his ability to provide for his family and now he can not do that to the fullest of his ability and has no idea how he will make a living when he is no longer a soldier.

These are just some of the things that I feel should be included when you are a military wife facing re-deployment with your soldier who just happens to have been wounded.

We are given some great info and there are some terrific agencies out there to help families with re-integration, but there are still a ton of holes left in all the info that is given out.

And this missing info makes the life of a wounded warrior and his family, trying to re-integrate, a living hell at times.

I am a lucky wife, my soldier came home to me, broken both mentally and physically , but home non the less.
Is my mantra that I have lived by for what will be a year on October 15.
I know , in the deep dark recesses of my mind , that things could have been worse when G.I.Joe was hit and wounded by a frag grenade on Sept. 12, 2011.
But, most days I don't have time to look into that place for fear that I might like that place so much I wont want to come back to the kids who needs me and the soldier that needs me more.

A great way to help support a wounded warrior

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Trial and Error

GF cooking/baking is sort of a challenge, no matter if you have been doing it for 5 days or 5 yrs.

You are never sure how a recipe will turn out, even if you have made that recipe a time or two before. And trying a new recipe is like an adventure , where you have a limited "road map" to help guide you to the end.


The mixing, weighing ( yes, weighing) of the dry ingredients, making sure that your milk and eggs are at the right "room temp" before you add them to the dry mix.

Making sure that you mix the batter long enough to activate the xanthun gum to insure proper binding.

Gabriel helping make the pancakes
And that everything mixes together nicely, but that you don't over mix either.

So when Gabriel asked me to make pancakes, which I had not done in over a month, I decided I wanted to make buttermilk pancakes.

No, problem I thought, I have made buttermilk pancakes a time or two before and since I am pretty comfortable with taking a gluten filled recipe and converting it in to a GF recipe I felt I was more than up for the challenge of making GF buttermilk pancakes for my son.

G.I. Joe cooking the pancakes
After I had weighed, measured and mixed all the ingredients G.I.Joe decided that he wanted to cook the pancakes, which was more than okay with me :)

nice and golden brown
But, what should have been a simple task turned out to be a BIG PAIN!!

G.I.Joe made two separate attempts before he just trashed the batter and the 8 pancakes he had "cooked".

in they trash they went

The first set cooked up really nice on the outside, but did not want to cook on the inside and after almost 10m of cooking them he took them off the griddle and turned up the heat to 400F then set about making another batch.

The second batch cooked faster on the outside, but we had the same problem on the inside, nothing but raw dough. G.I.Joe cooked these for about the same length of time and ended up pretty much burning them  then gave up and tossed them into the trash, also, and the unused batter into the sink.

unused batter
Needless to say we did not have pancakes that morning.

I often hear that baking is a science and cooking is an art form and well I have to say that NOW I finally understand what that means.

And even though I did not get the end results I was wanting I did learn that the way I had combined the ingredients was not the proper way and so next time I will know what NOT to do.