Comfort Cookies

For those days that leave you frazzled, comfort cookies hit the spot. One delicious cookie bite and you’ll find yourself in a blissful sweet moment where your woeful, tired thoughts simply fade away.

Using a classic Betty Crocker recipe, I adapted it to my lifestyle choices which made these gluten free and dairy free using quality, organic ingredients whenever possible.

Here’s the original version from Betty herself–If you don’t adhere to a gluten free dairy free lifestyle, just go at this recipe as is and enjoy! http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/soft-molasses-cookies/4e20528d-5cb1-45fb-b9eb-8e6cca62afac

Below is my adapted version and I have to say they were pretty scrumptious to me. I nearly hurt myself eating so many! I needed to pass them along for sharing to save my poor belly!

Give them a try. Get wrapped up in these sweet delights and let your worries be free, if only for a few moments.  Bet you can’t eat just one.

Ginger Molasses Cookies

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup earth balance spread (organic soy free version)

1/4 cup dark molasses

1 egg

2 1/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Flour

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/8 tsp sea salt

3 Tbsp raw sugar (for dipping dough balls in)

Heat oven to 325°F. Using the large bowl of your mixer add brown sugar, earth balance, molasses and mix on medium speed. Add in remaining ingredients except granulated sugar and mix until completely incorporated.

Shape dough by rounded tablespoonfuls into 1 1/2-inch balls. Dip tops into raw sugar. Using an ungreased cookie sheet, place balls, sugared sides up, about 2 inches apart.

Bake 13 to 16 minutes or just until set and cookies appear dry. Immediately remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Try and wait until they cool before eating!  

 

Super Green Smoothie

Here it is, people! This is a super green smoothie that will put a smile on your face and a pep in your step. It’s delicious and filled with nutritious foods. There’s fresh pineapple to help boost your immune system. It supports respitory health and provides a good dose of vitamins, potassium, copper and magnesium to name a few. I used spinach for the greens in this smoothie. Spinach is a powerhouse greens filled with niacin, zinc, calcium, iron and even protein! 

So what are you waiting for? Start your morning right. Stay healthy. Stay happy! Enjoy!

Super Green Smoothie

1/2 cup fresh pineapple chunks

1/2 of a medium banana

Juice of 1/2 a fresh lemon

2 cups fresh spinach 

1 cup coconut water (more for a thinner smoothie)

Put the spinach into a blender and add coconut water. Puree until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients then blend again. Pour into your favorite drinking vessel and enjoy!

Be Bold. Eat Buddha Bowls. 

I ate well last week. Buddha Bowls were my meals for the week, portioned into single serving containers for quick grab and go. The inspiration for these Buudha Bowls came from my son. During a conversation he mentioned that he makes them, stores them in the refrigerator and eats them throughout the week. I asked him a few questions about how he prepared them, checked a few online ideas and I was inspired to create my own.

Buddha Bowls are my new favorite lunch. I plan on making more today to get me through this coming week. The most common way to create a Buddha Bowl starts with a base, which is generally a dark green vegetable. Next there’s a grain, a protein, a complex carbohydrate, something sweet, some crunch and some fluff (this would be toppings like chives, cilantro, sesame seeds, etc). All this goodness is topped with a fantastic sauce which is key for a superb bowl.

I adapted my Buddha Bowls to what I had on hand. I am definitely making it with chicken instead of beef when I make more today. Beef is delicious but I think a different sauce would compliment the meat more. The nutty asian-inpired sauce I made will be more ideal with chicken.

I also used some frozen and some fresh veggies. I very rarely buy frozen vegetables. My local grocer had 50% off on a brand I favor and their frozen vegetables were so inexpensive I bought several packages. I’ve found it difficult to get enough raw, fresh veggies in me lately so I decided to take a temporary different direction. It certainly worked!  In addition to the vegetables in my Buddha Bowls, I’ve enjoyed a couple fresh made juices and delicious fresh green salads. I’m planning more of the same for this week, too.

I encourage you to check out some ideas online and come up with your own unique version of these delicious, healthful meals. Here’s how I prepared my Buddha Bowls:

My base was spinach, then I added brown jasmine rice. My frozen veggie combo consisted of green beans, multiple colors and cuts of carrots, sweet peas, corn, broccoli and cauliflower. I tossed them together on a baking sheet, sprinkled a bit of granulated garlic and roasted them in the oven. My protein was thinly sliced grass fed sirloin steak, browned to medium rare in my cast iron skillet. I added roasted yams, cut into bite sized chunks, skipped the sweet and used chopped romaine as my crunch. I topped it with grated ginger, chives and black sesame seeds. Now, the best part-the sauce!  I looked up a few versions and then made up my own. My measurements are rough and I adjusted to taste, but here’s a good base recipe to start:

3 Tbsp creamy sunbutter

1 Tbsp low-sodium tamari

Juice of 1 lime, freshly squeezed

1 tsp rice vinegar

1 Tbsp honey

1.5 Tbsp sesame oil

1 small garlic clove, minced

1/2 tsp ground ginger (I also added ginger juice)

1/2 tsp granulated garlic

I added all ingredients, gave it a quick zap in the microwave to thin the sunbutter then whisked it until everything was evenly combined. I divided the sauce between my containers then topped some with chopped chives & black sesame seeds.

Although Buddha Bowls were the highlight of my week, I did make a two other cassoulets I ate for dinner. These were made with grass fed ground beef, more of the same vegetable combination I used for the Buddha Bowls, spiced with garlic, parsley, cumin, salt and pepper then topped with leftover biscuit dough. Lastly, I managed to get in more fresh produce by making mason jar juice!

I certainly ate healthful food that made my body feel good. Taking a few hours to prepare meals for the week keeps me from wanting to grab unhealthy foods like the little bag of fritos in the convenience market near work that becomes lunch or spending money on the many food carts that line the downtown streets. Homemade meals are always best. My body feels better, my mind is positively focused and my spirit is calm. Eating well makes me happy. I encourage you to try make ahead meals. It’s a great way to be assured you’ll get proper balanced nutrition. I guarantee that will motivate you to be your best every day. Now, who doesn’t want that? 

Dairy Free Spinach Artichoke Dip

I like that this dip is so versatile. It can be dressed up as an appetizer for a friend gathering and it can be a quick on-the-go snack food to have at the office. This happens to be one of my favorite recipes to make. It’s super quick and so easy.

I was trying to replicate a non-dairy version of spinach artichoke dip and wound up with this. It’s made simply by using a jar of marinated artichoke hearts, fresh baby spinach (3-4 cups), a couple cloves of garlic, a few shakes of some nutritional yeast; about 1/4 cup, a little salt and a dash of fresh ground black pepper. Give these ingredients a whir in a food processor and you’ve got yourself a delicious dip.

Think party appetizers, quick snack or movie night dip!  I sometimes get a little crazy and use this as the base spread on flatbread pizzas!  However you enjoy it, I’m sure you’ll find it tasty. 

I like to use Trader Joe’s brand of rice tortillas and cut them into triangles to make chips. I place them on a baking sheet, brush a bit of olive oil over the pieces, sprinkle salt on them and bake in a 325 degree oven for just a few minutes. They bake quickly so watch them close.

The next time you’re looking for the perfect snack dish give this a try. You be glad you did! Enjoy!

 

Two Years Of Good

This day brings significance I must acknowledge. Two years ago today I moved into my sweet little space I now call home. I believed it to be the worst day of my life. I was grateful for a place to call my own, thinking I was headed toward homelessness, but I longed for my old life. This change was abrupt. It was forced. It was not my choice. The day I walked out the door of my old house my relationship was officially over. It ended a month previously, really. I moved myself into the basement guest room while I frantically tried to find other living arrangements. When I wasn’t doing that I was trying to wrap my mind around what the hell happened.

If you’ve followed my blog for a while you’ve read the story of my abrupt life change. In this past blog Dip. Dip. Depression. I share the story of what happened that led me to walk through the door of my new place two years ago. Re-reading it myself I can say the most significant realization is the same. I can also say that two years later I still have no idea what happened to “M” for her to behave so horribly. I also still have no idea why she ended our relationship or why she chose to completely cut me out. I feel pretty confident now I know what happened in “M” that caused her mental break, but she will never tell me so I’ve come to my own conclusions and closure. I had to and I am still no less appalled by what she did, by the way. I accept that it is what it is. I can conjure up compassion for her occasionally, though it’s brief and far between. I know she struggles and suffers emotionally and that’s really an awful way to be. It’s unfortunate.

I don’t often give “M” my mental energy these days. I like much more to focus on my awesomely positive experiences and the goals I am working toward. Life fell magically back into place looking completely different than the old life I was longing. Soon enough I was done looking back, feeling happy and making plans for my future. I have a job I call my dream job even though much like my life it is very different than I imagined.

Life is good. Most days I’m pretty content. I honestly can only see misery when I think of the what if. That being if we had stayed together. Interesting how two short years can change my view of “the good life”. I like where I’m at now. I like where I’m going. While there have been plenty of struggles, I persevere. I really try to be positive. Soon enough things will change again, this time by my own determination. I will always be deeply grateful for this place that became my home. It’s where I came back to myself. Happy two years of good to me!

Gorgeous view from my kitchen window on a recent snowy day

2017. New Year. Radical Change.

Where has the time gone? Do you ask yourself that question as often as I do? It has been seven months since my last blog post! That’s a long time! The break was needed, though I did not intend this length. I continue to be active in other areas on WordPress. I notice I still get activity and new followers to my blog. I do appreciate all of you with your continued support and interest.

It’s hard remembering back to summer as our city sits snow covered after a series of winter storms that paralyzed Portland. I did have an amazing summer though, and I was out exploring my lovely Oregon state as often as I could. My truck got it’s camper conversion and with each trip out I played a little more with the organization and set up. I really like it a lot.

Thanks to my son for gifting me a trip to North Carolina over my birthday so I could see him and spend time in Raleigh, a city I am interested in knowing. Two visits with my boy in one year puts a smile on my face! My plans for radical change continue to move steadily along. There is something both unsettling and comforting for me as I fiercely focus my energies on this change. This being my move across the country from Portland Oregon to Raleigh North Carolina. I am on the path. I’m making it happen. It’s scary exciting!

These past several months have brought change to my family. Our little triad increased three fold when my daughter married a man with two young girls. The joy of little girls to dote on makes this “grandma” very happy. I look forward to being on the east side of the country where I will be closer to my little family.

I haven’t spent much time in my kitchen these past months. I do what I need to sustain myself, however I’ve been lacking the inspiration to be creative with my food. While I am deeply grateful for the space I have including my tiny kitchen, I long for a “real” kitchen with counter space in a room of it’s own. My little studio is overall pretty awesome even with its “rv”style kitchen. I do not know where I would be without this place. It has been a blessing and my saving grace. What originally began as a two month temporary stay is now creeping up on two years of comfortable living.

One thing I do not find so awesome about my area is being housebound for days when Portland gets snow and ice storms, which has been the case recently. It used to be rare for this city, but both winters have dumped the white stuff in my hills. I have learned when it snows and freezes I will be stuck on my hill long after the rest of the city is back to its hustle. My elevation is high nestled among the trees of Forest Park, so weather is more extreme than the valley below me. I am less than two miles from work yet on snow filled days it feels like I’m in a mountainous winter wonderland. I may whine about the size of my kitchen space hindering my desire to be creative, but it came through for me and saved my sanity while I was stuck inside. Thankfully I’ve been well stocked with groceries each time I’ve been stuck!  I now own all the tools I will need to traverse my snowy and icy hills if my truck can’t get out. Ice cleats, hiking poles and an ice crunching shovel will be my winter companions. I find it a funny thought that I now own these things to move around my Portland city!  This is just one of the many things that has made living in the West Hills a unique experience!

I wanted to provide you all with some pictures of my food creations over the past several months but my laptop died before I could save all my pictures to my “cloud”.  For now I’ve replaced it with my tablet which puts me on a new learning curve, especially with blogging!

This post serves as my reintroduction sans the food pictures. I do have a few photos of the incredible beauty I have witnessed recently up here in the hills. I certainly cannot complain about that!

Stunning beauty

Portland like we rarely see it. Enjoy! More to come soon. I promise. Sabbatical over. Thanks again for sticking around.

Happy New year!

This Oregon Life

I have been eagerly awaiting decent Oregon weather so I can get out in the woods to enjoy some camping.  With my ready made camping vehicle, I can be on the go without much preparation other than food.  It is so awesome to get in and go!  I’ve been really excited to get out in nature and enjoy my beautiful Oregon.  Let me tell you, I desperately need out of Portland these days!  I enjoyed an extra long trip last weekend and this weekend I did an over-niter just because I can! Nature, beauty and primitive camping is not far from Portland.  Less than a two hour drive brings me to the peace I want.

 

My lovely state did not disappoint!  The weather was perfect both weekends.  Last weekend I stayed at a new campground for me and this weekend I went to an old time favorite spot where I have been camping for years.  Both spots brought me the calm solitude and connection with nature I love.

My sweet princess is not a fan of camping.  Her first weekend she spent terrified and preferred the comfort of my lap or on the bed safe inside my rig.  Even with friends she loved, being out and near the camp fire was much too scary for my little one.  Freshly returned from my second camping trip of the season my little girl is exhausted.  This time she was attacked by a dog much larger than her as we were taking a walk.  Irresponsible pet owners did not have their dog leashed at their campsite.  When we walked by, he ran out to us and attacked my baby. Thankfully, she has only minor physical injuries but she is now a skittish, terrified little thing.  I certainly hope she gets back to her usual spunky happy self soon.  My poor, sweet baby.  That was a terrifying experience for us both.

 

We’re taking a couple weeks break from camping to enjoy other weekend activities, but we’ll be back at it again with more adventures and good food in store!!  I’ve got some camping with dog experience behind me now so I think I’m more prepared for future trips. Every chance I get this coming season, I will be out in the great green of Oregon.  If my plans lay out as I hope, this will be my last summer in Oregon so I am taking advantage of what my great state offers so close to home. (I’ll share more about this later!)

As my usual style, food is the center of attention for my camping adventures.  Remember that raspberry sauce I wrote about not long ago?  Here’s the same version with blueberries added.  It made for a delicious pancake sauce this morning.  There’s nothing like freshly made food in the great outdoors.  It just tastes better!  I added a dollop of plain coconut Greek style yogurt, which is actually quite sweet and not tart like typical dairy yogurts. The combination was fantastic!  Add a steeping cup of fresh brewed java, a little fire to watch dance and this morning was divine!20160626_093914