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!  

 

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Blackberry Birthday Crumble

It’s my birthday!! It’s my birthday!!

Dessert for my special day made on the cheap!  Staying within my new food budget is made easy when the main ingredient is free!!  Wild blackberries are growing in abundance at Sauvie Island!

Made with a grain free topping, this crumble will be delightful!!  Today will be a great day!! Happy Birthday to me!

IMG_3406Crumble Topping

1/2 cup sorghum flour

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

dash of cloves

5 Tablespoons cold Earth Balance Spread

Combine the dry ingredients then add the spread.  Using a pastry cutter, or your fingers, mix until well combine and clumps form.  Sprinkle over 3 cups of berries in a greased 8×6 dish (or similar)  I added some turbinado sugar, about 1 teaspoon of arrowroot and a little more cinnamon to the berries, gave them a good mix then spread them evenly in the dish.

(slightly adapted from: http://www.thesensitivepantry.com/small-recipes/)

Grain Free, Dairy Free Apple Crisp

We recently spent a weekend in West Seattle where we stayed at my sweetie’s cousins home, which I must say is quite a charming neighborhood!  We had such a great time walking to the local digs.  Of course, I had to check out the grocery stores, one of my favorite things to do!  I just can’t resist a good natural grocer!  Alki Beach was a short drive away where we spent time enjoying the sights and sunsets.  It was such a wonderfully relaxing mini vacation that was much needed.

The house was such a cute place, with one of the coolest kitchens!  While small, it was a great lay out and seemed very functional; a plus for me since I spend a lot of time in kitchens!  One afternoon as I wandered around the outside perimeter of the house checking out the plants and landscape, I noticed apples on the ground around a tiny tree. It seemed too small to be producing fruit, yet sure enough when I looked up I saw a plethora of red orbs waiting to be picked.  I was so excited and I picked several pounds of apples in no time!  This is one of my happiest moments: picking food from it’s origins then creating something delicious.  This truly makes my heart big.  I love the feeling of this in a way I just cannot describe.  So, I’ll say that I was skipping and smiling pretty big at the bag of apples I had.  My creative juices started going as I began imagining delicious crisp toppings.  I wanted to make it grain free and dairy free so I went a new direction with a topping after a bit of recipe research.

Here’s what I came up with:

I sliced all the apples (about 4 cups) and gave them a lemon water bath to keep them from browning.  After draining them, I tossed them in a large bowl with a few sprinkles of cinnamon and nutmeg along with a couple tablespoons of coconut sugar then mixed it so all the apple slices were coated.  I spread the slices evenly into a greased 9″x 13″ baking pan.  I made the following topping:

1/2 cup cashew pieces

1/4 cup almond pieces

1/8 cup walnut pieces

1/4 cup almond meal

1/8 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup coconut sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp cloves

1/4 tsp sea salt

I mixed the dry ingredients together until well blended then cut in about 5 Tblsp of Earth Balance Soy Free spread until it was well incorporated.  I sprinkled the topping evenly over the apples slices then baked it in a 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes.

The nuts added a great texture and it had a lovely flavor that wasn’t too sweet.  The spice combination along with those sweet apples gave this crisp an overall fantastic taste.

Next time I’ll whip up a little coconut cream with a dash of vanilla for an extra delicious addition!

baby tree with so much to offer!

baby tree with so much to offer!

all spiced and ready to go!

all spiced and ready to go!

Baked goodness!

Baked goodness!

Birthday Cake. Birthday Memories.

It is hard to believe that nine months has passed since my mom’s death.  Her absence is so strong and I miss her deeply.  I just celebrated my first birthday without her.  That was strange.  I am here on this earth because of her, yet she is not.  I just found that to be a weird feeling.  I did not get a phone call from her wishing me a happy birthday, nor did I get to request a special dessert; a long standing tradition.  I made my own birthday dessert using peaches picked at Sauvie Island.  I spent my birthday in the woods, enjoying one of my favorite camping spots with people I love dearly.  I reflected on birthdays of the past and memories of my mom.

This post is dedicated to my mom, who could make any dessert absolutely delicious.  I appreciate you in ways I never realized when you were living.  I miss your unconditional love.  I miss your ability to just listen without trying to fix anything.  I miss everything about you including your fantastic desserts, even though I couldn’t eat most of them.  Love was laced through out every dish you made whether it was sweet or savory.  I love you dearly and miss you profoundly.  I feel the loss of you in everything I do.  I grieve for you and I grieve for my kids, who also struggle with their own heartache around the loss of their beloved gramma (G’ma).  I feel their loss along with my own.  Even though they are both adults, I still want to remove the pain of your leaving.  I guess that is just the mom thing…..always wanting your kids to be well regardless of their age.  I know you know what I am talking about, mom.  You held the pain of all of your kids when any of us struggled; I know you did.  I know you were close by for my birthday.  I felt your presence as I stared at the star lit sky.  I imagine you would even try and hold my pain for you leaving here.  You were just that way; never wanting any of us to hurt.  I made my own birthday dessert while thinking of our peach picking adventures in my childhood.  I loved the orchards we visited, always excited to take that first juicy bite into a fresh picked peach.

I chose my birthday dessert for a few reasons.  We had peaches that needed to be used.  We were going out of town so I wanted something easy to make and transport.  I had a gluten free cake mix (Betty Crocker GF yellow cake mix) sitting in the cupboard for months.  The end result was a peach dump cake.

It was pretty good, although the cake mix had a rather gritty texture.  I do not generally buy boxed cake mixes, but if I recall, this was a super deal and I wanted to just give it a try to see what it was like.  Everyone who tried it thought it was fabulous.  I made a coconut whip cream as topping.  Delicious!

I peeled and sliced four peaches and lined the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish with them.  I sprinkled a bit of cinnamon and brown sugar over them then dumped the dry cake mix over the top along with a bit of water (about 1/2 cup).  I topped it with a mix of chopped nuts (cashews, almonds and walnuts), then sprinkled a little more cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar over that.  I melted about 1/8 cup of Earth Balance spread (soy free kind) and drizzled it over across the top of the cake then baked it in a 350 degree oven for about an hour.

Happy birthday to me!   This was the first birthday for me that I celebrated you mom, along with me.  Thank you mom for giving me life.  As I sit here staring out at the ocean on one of my last out of town trips of the summer, I feel your presence.  You loved the beach and each time I am here I know you are close.  I wonder if you can feel me when I think of you.  I hope you can feel my love.  You are missed.

 

My mom at around my age. At the beach; one of her favorite places.

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For The Love Of Produce, and Moms

I wanted to blog about our local Farmer’s Market that I love so much for the best finds in beautiful organic produce.  I had a story to share of how I’d run into one of my mom’s oldest and dearest friends; that we talked for half an hour reminiscing memories of mom, catching up on the family one by one.  I was going to note that I did not miss the irony of this conversation with a woman who has known me most of my life as it was happening under the tent of Deep Roots Organic Farm stand.

I was going to tie in the random musings of my weekend to my first Mother’s Day without my mom.  I had the perfect chosen words that embraced this day; how I spent it in the kitchen baking,  flooded with memories of my mom.  Baking was one of my mom’s favorite past times and she was a darn good baker.  It felt right to be creating in the room that she loved the most; that I love the most.

Clearly, this blog is not my intended.  I did spend my day in the kitchen baking after returning from an early breakfast with my dad.  I used my lovely rhubarb I purchased from the Farmer’s Market to make a delicious Gluten Free Rhubarb, Lemon and Almond Cake as well as some rhubarb chutney to be used for our appetizers and dinner later.

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While I certainly had plenty of memories surrounding my mom, there were no lovely sentiments floating through my mind that I was eager to blog about.  I had no desire to sit down to my lap top and blog out memories or feelings or recipes.  I had no desire to even look at anything on line other than the few recipes I’d intended to play with for the day.  I stayed away from all my social media and email.  Reading condolences, prayers and thoughts of me on this very difficult day was not something I could bear to see.  I felt too much pain in my heart.  Seeing pictures and shares from my family was not what I wanted to see on this day.  Nor did I want to see glowing, gushing remarks about others’ own mothers.  I needed to protect my heart.

I mentally prepared for this Mother’s Day the best I could.  I thought I was doing fairly well.  But, when this day arrived I was anything but well.  I had a heavy heart and was low in spirit.   My sweetie had to work so I was on my own to get through this day without completely falling into inconsolable despair.  It was rough.  Rough.  I cried.  A lot.  I wanted to be alone.  I felt lost in anguish several times.

I got through the day and I am recovering emotionally.  Grief is like a hard slap in the face.  I think I’ve got this; I can handle it.  I have a tool box filled with useful mantras and such to help me face any challenge.  While all this is true, grief is so heavy I simply forget to do the many things I know are good.  It is too hard.  Too overwhelming.  It continuously catches me off guard, even when I think I feel strong.  Indeed, it is a painful process.

So, I’ll share my pictures, but the original story is changed.  I can tell you how happy the market produce makes me feel.  I can say the baking and playing in the kitchen all day did give moments of contentedness.  The big picture still remains.  I am forever changed with the death of my mom.  I feel like I now search for a new place; one that I hope will someday bring me peace in my loss.

Although I am one day late of the officiated day, personally, I think Mother’s Day is every day and I bet most mom’s would agree.  We need to celebrate ourselves more and give kudos to the people who have the hardest job in the world.  I wish you all a blessed day; every day.

I love you, mom.  I miss you terribly.  I am beginning to appreciate you in ways I never imagined.  I am thankful for you.  Happy Mother’s Day to you–somewhere over the rainbow.

beautiful radishes

beautiful radishes

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My take home stash

My take home stash

 

Spring Time Treats

One of the many things I love about my new blogging world are the immense opportunities for sharing and learning from my fellow food bloggers.  Every time I check my reader I have a sense of renewed inspiration.  This is my motivation as I continue to find it difficult to get creative in the kitchen.  However,  my desire to dream up new dishes has been bringing me to my favorite room a bit more often.

We recently had the pleasure of sharing company with good friends who joined us at our house for some sun worshiping on our back deck.  These sunny, gorgeous days sure help lift my spirit.  So do these lovely people.  I am always delighted when I know the E.B’s are coming over.  Interestingly, this knowledge also brings a desire to make dessert.  It must be because the E.B’s are such sweet people.  Going with some ideas I had gotten while checking out other dessert blogs, I created a light and tasty spring time treat.

We drank ice cold lemonade brought by the E.B’s and indulged in a delightful dessert.   We engaged in pleasant conversation and a little bit of laughter.  It was an quite an enjoyable evening.

I really wanted to make a sweet bread as the base for this dessert, but time and lack of energy kept me from getting it done.  I had a large supply of gluten/dairy free granola bars that were recently given to me so I decided to use those and work from there.

Here is what I used to make this dessert:

granola bars

mango chunks and blueberries

cashew cream

coconut cream

sprinkling of nutmeg

Starting with the  granola bars, I broke them into bite sized chunks and dropped them into the bottom of a wine glass.  I added a dollop of cashew cream, then the fruit. I made a second layer in the same way and topped it with coconut cream with a sprinkle of nutmeg.

Here’s how to make cashew cream:

1 cup of cashews (soaked in water at least 6 hours in fridg)

1/4 cup of water

agave to sweeten as desired

Blend in a magic bullet, vitamix or strong blender until creamy.

To make coconut cream:

remove the thick cream from the top of a full fat can of coconut milk.  It’s best to chill it in the fridg overnight first.  Open the can upside down and pour out the coconut water for later use.  What’s left will be about a half cup of thick cream.

Put into a bowl, add pure vanilla extract, a little sweetener and whip with hand beater until fluffy and creamy.

Goodness in a glass right here.  Give it a try.  You deserve a treat!

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