Thursday, September 29, 2011

Seasonal Crafting

I think it's kind of funny, I seem to craft according to the season. In the warmer months I like to either dye fabric - I take full advantage of the sun for drying my pieces, or I make necklaces. The weather is starting to get cooler here and already I'm crafting hats for winter. Around this time, I seem to get the itch to crochet something, and whether it's scarves, hats, or flowers, I just have to get my hook moving. Last year, I finally found a hat pattern that was real easy to make. I made some changes to the pattern and made 3 different hats with the same pattern - pretty cool huh?

This one, I made first - it's mine. My winter jacket is a rust color with black trim, so I made a black hat with orangey, rust edging:

I made this one for Jim. He likes his hats thick with 2 layers and I made it longer so he could fold up the edges:

This is Heather's, in her fave color - she wanted it to fold up and she wanted a pom pom on top:

I made this matching scarf and hat the end of winter last year and didn't get a chance to do anything with them:

This one I made last year also - it's a sideways hat (crocheted sideways):

This past week I made 3 hats - the brown one with the spikey edging (my fave) is the one I finished last night:

I am planning to make a couple more hats - I have this funky squiggley yarn I bought years ago and I think I can make a hat with that. What will I do after that? Well, I'll probably start on scarves, what's a hat without a scarf?

Keep Warm!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Comforting Miso Soup Recipe

The original pic for this recipe was accidentally deleted - this is not the pic from this recipe. I make miso a ton of different ways. 


I was born and raised in Hawaii and as a baby, I was told that I didn't like baby food - I would spit it out. The only foods I ate was poi (a starchy paste made from taro root) and miso soup (a soup made from fermented soy bean paste). You may think that that is an odd combo, but I loved it. To this day, my go to comfort food is miso soup - I add many different things to it to change it up. When I'm sick, it's not chicken noodle soup I crave, it's chicken miso soup. What's really nice is that my husband, Jim, likes it also. I love to eat it on top of brown rice - that's a total meal for me.

Today I had a crappy lunch that made me not feel so well. I had 2 pieces of frozen pizza and I ate the crust! I am gluten free, but today I wanted to eat that thin, crispy crust - I knew I would pay for it later, and pay I did. So, when deciding what to make for dinner, miso soup came to mind. We are entering the beginning stages of fall here in Port Angeles, Washington where the weather in the afternoons can be warm and evenings are crisp and cool, and I thought miso soup would fit the bill.

Katsuobushi, dried fish, is normally used to make dashi, a flavorful broth in Japanese cooking, and I was out of it. I then remembered I had some shrimp paste I had made for red Thai curry in my freezer, so I cut off about a 1/4 cup chunk and fried it up in a pot with some leeks - some cut up shrimp would work as a substitute. This might have been too much, because my husband, Jim, ended up not liking the shrimpy taste. I also remembered that he doesn't like the texture of cooked shiitake mushrooms, so I ended up taking those out of his bowl and put them in mine. That's ok that Jim didn't like this version of my miso soup, I like it and I have leftovers for several more bowls.

Miso Soup Recipe

6 dried shiitake mushrooms
1-2 Tb. shrimp paste or cut up shrimp (depending on how much shrimpy flavor you want)
Handful of leeks (only because I had them)
About 6 - 8 slices of lunch meat
½ c. or so of frozen mixed veggies
6 Tb. red miso paste (the white one has MSG)
5 c. chicken stock (mine is unsalted)
3 eggs

Place dried mushrooms in a mug of warm water and place something on top to hold them down as they will float - you are reconstituting them.

In a medium pot, saute frozen shrimp paste with leeks until leeks have softened.

Add lunch meat and veggies and combine.

Put in your miso paste - because the paste is thick, you normally dissolve the paste in warm water, but I was lazy. Mix the paste in with the other ingredients.

Take your reconstituted shrooms, cut into small pieces, and add them to the miso ingredients, stirring to combine.

Pour in your stock and stir to dissolve the miso (you can include the mushroom water for extra flavor - I forgot).

Let the soup ingredients marry for several minutes, bringing to a gentle boil.

In the meantime, crack the eggs in the mug and break it up to combine the yolks and the whites.

When the soup is almost boiling, stir the post while adding the eggs. The eggs will break into shreds - keep stirring for about a minute. Another option, is to just break the eggs into the soup and let it poach.

Serve hot over brown rice or throw in some rice noodles before soup is done.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Creamy Chicken with Chard Soup Recipe

**I am sorry - the pics for this post was accidentally deleted and cannot be retrieved**

What started out to be corn chowder, turned out to be this wonderful soup. With the weather starting to turn cold in the evenings, I thought soup would be appropriate. Jim said, "We haven't had corn chowder in a while." Then he started talking about the chicken and rice casserole made with cream of mushroom soup that I used to make. Well, one thought led to an another and this recipe was born. It was simple and easy to make - it was very comforting, the flavors all melded together, and was very yummy. My daughter, Heather, was over doing her laundry, so there wasn’t much in the way of leftovers. Next time, I will have to make a larger pot of this soup.

Creamy Chicken with Chard Soup Recipe

2 slices of bacon
½ onion
1-2 finely chopped garlic cloves
½ package of sliced creminis (broke into half)
3 chopped chard stems
¼ c. arrowroot powder
½ c. milk of choice (I used almond milk)
3 c. chicken stock (I used unsalted and add my own salt)
½ c. heavy cream
1 large bay leaf
½ tsp. dried thyme
salt/pepper to taste
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
3 large chard leaves, chopped

Fry up the bacon with the onion, garlic cloves, shrooms, chard stems till soft. Add arrowroot powder and all liquids. Then add bay leaf, thyme and other seasonings. As soup starts to heat up, add in chard leaves. Serve when soup is a little thick and hot. Gluten free garlic biscuits or regular garlic toast are a yummy accompaniment with this soup.

I was initially going to put in french cut green beans, but since I had the chard, I figured it would work better and I was right - spinach or arugula would work too. The cream I had in my frig or else I would've bumped up the milk to a full cup. Next time I will saute the chard leaves before putting in the seasonings.

This recipe was a hit and as Jim is scraping the bottom of the pot, he says, “You have to make this again.”


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Jo-Ann Fabrics Coupons

Jo-Ann Fabrics is a fabric/craft store that's in 47 states in the U.S (tho, I did see a couple of links to stores in Toronto and Ontario, Canada - maybe our Canadian friends can verify). The racks are always loaded with merchandise and they are always having sales - themed sales, instore sales, and they offer numerous coupons to use on purchases. You can sign up at the store (at the register) to receive their mail flyer that tells you of storewide items for sale and will have coupons you can use. There really is no reason to buy anything at regular price at Jo-Ann's when coupons and sales are always available. Usually when you walk in the door of any store, there will be a bunch of instore flyers that advertise current sales and will always have at least 1 or 2 coupons. If you sign up online at Jo-Anns, there are even more items that are available for sale, some that are not in the stores - I've gotten some really great bargains on my craft supplies buying them online (shipping is pretty reasonable). As an online registered customer, you will get weekly emails notifying you of sales and will alway include a coupon.

Most recently, I received a coupon for 20% off my ENTIRE purchase (I've received several of those recently), which includes purchase of sale items. I used it yesterday to buy fabrics, plus I bought the new Quilting Arts Gift magazine which sells for $14.99. The magazines at Jo-Ann's were 10% off regular price and with the 20% off coupon, the magazine cost me $10.49 - not too bad. Update: Jo-anns sadly discontinued the discount for magazines - you have to pay full price for them.

I found out recently that as long as you use coupons from different flyers, there's no limit to how many coupons you can use. Yesterday I used my 20% off (entire purchase) coupon from online, plus my 40% off (1 regular priced item) coupon from my mail flyer, AND a 40% off instore coupon (1 regular priced item) - and from a purchase of $63, I saved $22.44. I think I made good use of all my coupons.

So, if you live near a Jo-Ann's, take advantage of their coupons, whether online or instore and start saving money so you can buy more supplies.

If you don't have a Jo-Anns near buy, see if your local fabric store has coupons and take advantage of that.

 Part of the Email coupon I got - there is a bottom section which
will have your name and a bar code.

Happy shopping!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe Remix

I have been FaceBooking and blogging for a little while now and through my online journeys, I have met a wonderful gluten free blogger named Shirley Braden who writes a blog and has a website called Gluten Free Easily. She comes up with wonderful recipes that are simple and easy to make and what she doesn’t write, she finds and shares. Yesterday, she posted this recipe on FaceBook. The original recipe was not gluten free (gf) and when I saw that she had made it gf, I was very happy. I knew this was a recipe I had to make immediately.

I bake differently than most people. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that “baking is an exact science”. Well sorry, that’s not for me. I substitute a lot (also what you're not supposed to do) and I use less sugar and salt in all my recipes or when trying other recipes. I have not found it to be a problem with the end result, I am happy with it and so is my husband, Jim.

This recipe was no different. As soon as I read the ingredients, the substitutions were running through my head like a scrolling marquee - this for that, less of that, etc. It’s not radically different than Shirley’s, but I do recommend you read her recipe first before reading mine. She has other info of interest - especially if you’re gf.

Yesterday was my Farmer’s Market day and at the Market, there are a lot of vendors offering fresh, tasty treats. One vendor had some gf chocolate cookies, so I bought one to try - it was $2! As I’m leaving the Farmer’s Market I realized that I didn’t buy anything for Jim (if I buy for me, I buy for him), so I went back to the same vendor and she had these huge not gf chocolate chip cookie, so I bought one for Jim. He ate his after lunch and said they were tasteless. After having one of my cookies this morning, I asked him how it was and how it compared to the one he had yesterday and he said that it was good and was better than the one he had yesterday - that made me very happy.

Spaced these a little too close to each other.

Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookie Remix 

1 c. softened, unsalted butter
1 c. not packed light brown sugar (I just scoop it)
½ c. granulated sugar
2 eggs at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1¼ c. brown rice flour
¾ c. arrowroot powder
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tb. flax meal
½ tsp. salt
1 c. dark chocolate chips
½ c. pecans

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Beat butter until creamy, then add in brown sugar and granulated sugar and beat until well combined. Add in eggs, 1 at a time, and vanilla and beat until incorporated. In another bowl measure in flour, arrowroot powder, baking soda, and salt - stir with a whisk to combine and break up any lumps. With your mixer on low, mix the flour and butter mixtures together a little at a time - process until they come together. Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts. Using your 1 tablespoon measure, place 1 tablespoon on your baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake cookies for 8 to 10 minutes until set.

These cookies were crunchy around the edges and wonderfully soft in the middle - I ate 2 right off the cooling rack. I usually don't care much for raw cookie dough, but guess who was licking the beater of my mixer? You guessed it, even uncooked, these were yummy. I took some notes as I was baking so I could share with you:

I do not pack my brown sugar and I always use less than the recipe calls for. For years now, I’ve been very conscious of my sugar intake and lessening the sugar by ¼ to ½ cup in all my baking recipes (I even lessen the salt in recipes) - I don’t really care for really sweet snacks or desserts.

The arrowroot powder can be substituted with potato starch or cornstarch, like Shirley used.

I used flax meal because it’s good for you and it was next to the xanthan gum in the frig.

Use any nuts you like, I just happened to have pecans in my freezer.

I decided to make mine 1 tablespoon size - I wanted this to be a small snack, not a big one, and 1 tablespoon is just enough.

I think next time I'll add another ½ of chocolate chips, although, eating the cookie without nuts and chips is really good.

My cookies took 10 minutes to bake nice and brown.

The cookies can be removed immediately from baking sheets - just be sure to place directly on cooling rack without letting them fall in between the bars or they will break.

Whenever I’m baking and working with dough or batter, I always have a mug filled with ice and water near by. I keep my dishing utensils in the cold until I am ready to use them - it really helps with easy dough removal and prevents less stickage.

I got 31 good sized cookies from this recipe.

Happy baking!!

Comments or questions are always welcomed. I would love to hear what you think of this recipe or any of my other posts. Thanks!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Dessert for One

**I am sorry - the pics for this post was accidentally deleted and cannot be retrieved**

-- Note: this is a 2fer recipe - I'm giving you 2 recipes in this post --

I found this easy peasy gluten free (gf), flour free cookie recipe on a FaceBook post from Madona Edgar, using nut butter. You take 1 cup of any nut butter of your choice, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 egg (I used Ener-G Replacer) and 1 tsp. vanilla. You mix all the ingredients and place small balls onto your parchment paper lined cookie sheet - press them flat, don't make them too thick or they'll come out hard. You can sprinkle with extra sugar if you like, then bake 10-15 minutes at 400 degrees f. Let cool and for long term storage, you can store in a zip bag in your freezer to make this dessert as needed.

I came up with a very simple dessert for one person (or more if you like) that's very easy to make. It takes only 3 ingredients:

1 homemade gluten free cookie (can use the recipe I found or one of your own)
a spritz of whipped cream from a can
some toasted almonds

Place your cookie on a plate. Spritz on some whipped cream. Top with some toasted almonds. That's it. See I told you it was easy.

To make this real decadent, I put a square of dark chocolate on the cookie and I melted it in my microwave for a several of seconds. My cookie was frozen, so I mic'd it at 30 second intervals. It took just over a minute, but don't use that as a gauge - the next time I did it for a straight minute, I walked away and there was a stinky, smokey mess. If your cookie is frozen, mic it at 30 second intervals and don't walk away (learn from my mistake). An unfrozen cookie would probably take about 20-30 seconds.

This recipe could be made using a store bought gf cookie, but why? Treat yourself, take the time to make the cookie recipe (which is so easy) and then make the dessert. I think you'll like it as much as I do.

Now . . . let's have some dessert!!

: -) !!!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Gluten Free Bread Baking - Failure and Success plus My Biscuit Recipe

**I am sorry - the pics for this post was accidentally deleted and cannot be retrieved, this post has modified**

I've been gluten free (gf) since about 2008 and soon after being gf, I sought out to make my own bread - gf breads at that time were very expensive (they still are), so being that I like to bake, I went on the hunt for a good recipe. I even sold my regular bread machine and bought a Breadman Pro, which has a gf setting. Most of the recipes I tried didn't work - too gummy or sunk in the middle. Some were hit and miss - one day it would come out perfect, then next time it would flop. I don't understand what I'm doing wrong. I've been reading tips about why my bread comes out gummy or sunk in the middle - I try to fix the recipe, but it doesn't work. I don't have the patience like some of these other hardcore bloggers to keep trying and tweaking the recipe. My Breadman now sits on a shelf.

I then found this great biscuit recipe that I've made over and over again and I love it - it works great for hamburger buns. I've tweaked the recipe a little bit:

Gluten Free Buttermilk Biscuits

1 cup potato starch - not flour or arrowroot powder
1 cup brown rice flour
1 tbsp. flax meal
1 tsp. xanthan gum
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
4 Tbsp. butter, unsalted, chilled, cut into small cubes
1 cup buttermilk (substitute: 1 cup milk of any kind and 1 tsp. white vinegar let sit for couple minutes)
2 beatened egg whites
Optional: chopped lunch meat, shredded cheese
cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Prepare two baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper or by lining them with foil and a light coating of cooking spray. In a small measuring cup, measure the buttermilk and add the beaten egg whites and set aside.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, add cornstarch, brown rice flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Combine with a fork until ingredients are evenly distributed throughout the mix. Add the lunch meat and cheese, if using. Add the chilled butter cubes and work the butter into the dry ingredients along with the lunch meat and cheese using your fingers or a pastry cutter until the mixture has a pebbly, crumbly texture.

3. Pour the milk into the mixture of dry ingredients and butter and work with a fork until just combined. This is a wet, slightly sticky dough, adding more flour will help. Using a large spoon or spatula, drop biscuits onto baking sheets (see below on how I bake and cut my biscuits).

4. Place pans in the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 400 degrees F, bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden brown. Serve warm. For daily use, store biscuits in frig, these also store well in the freezer. Makes 10-12 biscuits

  1. I bake my biscuit in an egg ring so it comes out to be the perfect circle. You can use an english muffin mold or an empty tuna can.
  2. The finished biscuit is thin, it is perfect for sandwiches or to use as hamburger buns. 
After a few months of biscuit heaven, I decided I needed a change and I started to try baking bread again, this time in my oven. I took this recipe, a good "quick bread" recipe and tried to tweak it. The original recipe was ok, but the end result was real delicate, the bread doesn't hold up and can crumble easily. I added xanthan gum and had to increase the almond milk in the recipe so the dough would hold together, but it didn't turn out. 
 Then I started thinking . . . bread and biscuits are kind of the same thing. What if I take my good biscuit recipe I like and bake it in a loaf pan? I decided to try it. As I'm prepping the recipe, I realized that I put in 4 teaspoons of baking soda, it was supposed to be 4 teaspoons of baking powder - I goofed. So, in the sea of white powder that's in the bowl, I'm trying to scoop out the baking soda - did you know that baking soda looks like arrowroot powder and a lot of other white powdered ingredients? After scooping, even Jim helped, I crossed my fingers and I baked it at 425 degrees F (a little too high, I forgot that I was baking bread not bisicuits) for about 45 minutes. It came out great - nice shape, brown, and a little taller than the first one. Then I tasted it - blech! It was too bitter (too much baking soda makes your bread bitter - really bitter). I had to throw it out.

Ok, back to the drawing board again. I repeated the biscuit recipe with the correct measurements and it worked!! It didn't brown as nice as the previous one, but the taste is great, the texture is great - it was a little moist, not dry. I baked it at 350 degrees F for about 50 minutes. Next time, I'll bake it a little longer to see if will brown up nicely like the bitter one.

This sure was an overwhelming experience, but at least I finally have a good bread recipe. I've been craving sandwiches lately and sometimes, nothing beats a good ol' sandwich.