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!  

 

“Outside The Box” Shepherd’s Pie

It has been some time since I’ve stopped by here.  I have quickly perused through others’ blogs for recipe inspiration, but I haven’t spent the kind of time I would like to in this forum. I love the feeling of support, encouragement and connection I get from my blogging buddies.  I have certainly missed the outlet.  Right now, I could really use some support and connection.

There has been a lot going on in my world and I have not had the time or energy (or internet connection!) to do much more than what is necessary to get through each day.  As well, I haven’t had much time or energy (or space!) to cook food in the way I want either, and that has really affected my health.  I am definitely not feeling my healthiest physical self these days.

Things have settled just enough for me recently and new routine is being created.  One of those routines is that I am getting back to daily walking.  With that in place, it is imperative I get healthful meals back on my menu so I can get to feeling great again, physically and mentally.  I decided with good planning and preparation, I could pull off making some shepherd’s pie in two new cassoulet dishes I got a deal on at the local kitchen store where I work.  I have been excited to use these and they come with nifty lids for storing.  These will make two hearty main dishes.  How can I not get excited about make ahead meals?!

Shepherd’s pie is so comforting and I really need some comfort!  Life has thrown me one hard curve ball.  Some days the magnitude of it all is too heavy for me and I break.  On those days I reach out for friends and feel good books from people I consider of great wisdom.  I have attached myself to two particularly wonderful authors whose words reverberate through me and bring me strength and calm as well as validation that I am on my right path.  As is often the case, there is no limit to what gets processed in my mind as I’m chopping, mixing or stirring up something good.  Playing with food is a cathartic exercise that I find deeply satisfying on many levels.  After reading through a few chapters in one of these great books, I felt like I wanted to give deeper thought to the message I was reading.  While I chopped and stirred to prepare my shepherd’s pie, I also contemplated and reflected on what has happened with me recently, realizing it has already been nearly two months since I got the rug pulled out from under my comfortable life.  It still seems like last week to me.  My struggles have been ongoing and I imagine they will continue for some time to come.

What I am recognizing in this new journey is I would much rather be right here in this struggle, than to continue in that life I thought was so comfortable.  Because as the layers unravel, things become more transparent and the light shines a little differently.  I am right where I need to be.  I may never know why things happened like they did and I know there will likely never be any accountability for actions taken that forced me to here.  Yet, here I am suddenly left to pick up the pieces of my life because of someone else’s fears and vulnerabilities.  Life has no shortage of “wake up calls”.

I am teetering on the edge of acceptance and resistance.  Most days I am grateful for a deeper understanding of myself.  Other days I just want to eat comfort food.  By the last bite of my delicious good for me comfort food, I usually rest back on the side of acceptance.  I accept that I cannot change the behavior of others.  I can have compassion for their pain, I can set boundaries and say no, this is not okay.  I am learning that being a wholehearted and authentic person is the only way I want to live.  To be authentic can be deep and messy work.  But, when I woke up the other morning with a feeling of lightness that I have not felt in such a long time, I realized that it is worth every bit of work to participate in this life for a lot of reasons, but simply because it feels joyful to be completely and fully in life. That means being willing to show my truest self, to be communicative and to be connected.  It means being comfortable with who I am at my deepest level.

What brings me to my deepest, most comfortable sense of “self” is making the kind of food my body responds to best. I am also discovering that writing and sharing my story is a process that is both healing and humbling.  It makes me vulnerable and it makes me real.  I share not only recipes for healthful foods, I am sharing a piece of who I am.  In return I have received some of the most amazing and heart felt support for what I share and how I choose to share.  The feeling of connection is profound.

I am proud to share my kind of shepherd’s pie.  The ingredients go a little “outside the box”, making it not so much like the “classic” recipe.  Then again, I am an “outside the box” kind of person.  I will own every bit of that because I think it is the best way to be.  Just like this recipe! Go ahead and mix it up if the recipe doesn’t quite fit your dietary/taste preference.  Let go of how you think it is “supposed to be” and do what works for you! Much like life…  You know; even with my feathers a little ruffled, I can feel that life will work much better for me.  Things are changing.  Like, how I managed to pull off this fabulous recipe in my new and very tiny kitchen! Enjoy and know that when one is flexible in life, things seem to work themselves out.

Outside the Box Shepherd’s Pie

In a frying pan, stir up:

1/2 large yellow onion, diced

2 stalks celery, sliced

(preferably) 1 # grass fed, organic ground beef

1/2 Tblsp olive oil

Begin by sauteing the onions until translucent then add the celery and do the same.  Add in the ground beef and cook until no longer pink.  Add that mixture to casserole dishes then saute’:

4 medium carrots, sliced

2 cups broccoli florets

1 cup green beans

Saute’ until cooked with a slight crispness to them.  Top the meat mixture with the veggie mixture.  Cover the veggies with mashed yams. (1 large yam, peeled, boiled until soft, and mashed with some earth balance (or butter)  Pop into a 250 degree oven for about 30 mins or until completely warmed through.

 

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A Crock Of Comfort

Some days simply require a little extra comfort.  I have had many of those days recently where I have been seeking comfort in whatever ways I can.  I was fortunate enough to find some time even in the midst of my current life chaos to get in the kitchen and make a crock of chicken and veggies.  Of course, it doesn’t take long to drop all the ingredients right into the crock, turn the knob and get some comfort food going.

When my life gets this crazy stressful I often forget to eat so having something pre-made that I know is nutritious and sustains me is essential.  I make up container meals with my crock of food so all I need to do is pop it in the microwave for a quick warm up.  Because my world got all shook up and my daily food preparation habits have had to change, this also helps me to not feel so “deprived” of my routine style of eating because when “sh*t gets real”, like my current day crisis, it is imperative I maintain my usual healthful eating. My body demands it and I need my body to be at its best right now.

I made up the spice combination and ingredients in this recipe, loosely going on a recipe I remember from the past.  I put one pound of organic, all happy, boneless, skinless chicken thighs in the bottom of my crock, rubbed the thigh pieces with a spice combination of garlic, paprika, turmeric, cumin, parsley and black pepper, tossed in some yellow onion slices (about 1/2 a medium sized onion) and carrot coins (4 carrots).  Then I added about one cup of vegetable broth, one can of light coconut milk and put on the lid.  I set it for four hours.  About 15 minutes before I was ready to dig in I added 3 cups of baby spinach to the top of the food in the crock, put the lid back on and let it steam until wilted.  I ladled it over some multi-colored quinoa and had myself one delicious comfort food meal!  I now have quick “go to” meals for days.  A crock full of comfort.  It’s what I like. IMG_3083

A little bit of comfort is all right with me

I sometimes wonder when seeking comfort food became a “bad” thing. I suppose there is a correlation with our size obsessed culture and our overindulgence of all kinds of food, which can be a bad thing. However, we all have emotional attachments to food and comfort is found in those fond childhood food memories.

As a child food took center stage in my house. I find comfort simply being in a kitchen, which naturally progresses to food. I choose to see comfort food as a source of healing and it makes me feel good. Doesn’t it seem natural to gravitate toward what feels good?

Food can be disastrous to one’s health or it can have miraculous healing effects. I make a conscious choice to try and always use food in a healing way with a healthy dose of indulgence minus the guilt. Food is good and I find soulful healing in comfort food.

My dietary restrictions do not interfere with my ability to produce some succulent dishes that generate memories of childhood comforts and placates that deep down need for a few moments of contentment. While what I throw together current day may not even resemble anything I ever ate as a child, it still can satisfy my taste buds with it’s goodness and make me smile.

Having pizza was not something I ate much of as a child, but it was a mainstay for my kids in their coming up years. Being an overworked single parent made pizza an all in one easy meal to stop by and pick up on my way home. These days I make my own pizza and it’s every bit as indulgent in a much healthier way than those take and bakes of the past!

I admit I buy ready made crusts because I just don’t like making any kind of dough, but I must give credit to the gluten free/dairy free product choices I see in my favorite groceries stores that will allow me to create a pretty darn good pizza.

Here I have a pesto based pizza topped with red onions, black olive tapenade, marinated artichokes, kale, some ground turkey, a few choice spices, and topped with Daiya brand cheese. It was fantastic!

So much thought goes into dinner preparations I want to remind you; Don’t forget breakfast! It’s the most important meal of the day. Why not make it delicious and comforting as a great way to start your day?

This is cooked quinoa with cinnamon and nutmeg spiced coconut milk poured over it, along with a few raisins and a sprinkle of dried, unsweetened coconut shreds.

I say, go ahead and enjoy. We all need food and getting comforted by food brings a sense of satisfaction to more than just your belly. Eat with happy thoughts. Be thoughtful as you eat and let yourself be in that fond moment of present and past.  I see nothing “bad” about that.  You’ll feel so much better in your body, mind and spirit!

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