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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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

Roasted Veggie Dip

Let me tell you about this crazy meal I made for dinner.  I prepared a baking sheet with a variety of vegetables, gave them a stir in olive oil to coat them nicely, then sprinkled a bunch of spices on them.  I popped them in the oven until they were nicely roasted and lightly browned. This is when it gets crazy.  I decided to dump the roasted veggies into my mini food processor and whip those veggies into a dip.  I was in a dipping mood!

I made my own dipping chips, too!  I know, super crazy!!  A resident at one of the buildings where I work told me about a grocery liquidation store that sounded too good to be true.  It was quite a distance from my house, so I was hoping it would be worth my trip.  Oh my, I was not disappointed!  Organic, gluten free, dairy free and vegan items could be found in abundance! Not just some random off brands, but many of my personal favorite brands that are part of my regular shopping trips.  I was having my own internal happy dance as I filled my basket.  Among the amazing buys were Udi’s brand gluten free tortillas.  Let me tell you what I paid; two packages for one dollar.  Yep, you read that right-2/$1.00!!  For real!!  The expiration date is good.  Although I enjoy this brand often, I don’t usually buy these tortillas so I can’t tell you what might be “wrong” with them that would bring them to liquidation.  They are fabulous to me and I turned them into chips!!

Stick with me here while I tell you I took it even further.  Food Radical went wild in the kitchen tonight!  I had kale in the fridg that was calling to me, so while the oven was on I just transferred those tortilla chips to a plate and added kale pieces to the baking sheet.  I drizzled some apricot oil over with a sprinkling of sea salt then popped them in the hot oven.  A few minutes later I pulled out beautifully crisp kale chips!

There you have it.  This is one wacky dinner.  I’m here to tell you it’s dang good!  Mixing it up and doing it different is my thing.  Now, I’ll be getting on with my dipping!

Roasted Veggie Dip

2 medium yellow carrots, sliced into rounds

1 large zucchini, sliced into half moons

4 large radishes, quartered

1/2 small yellow onion, sliced

Add veggies to a bowl and drizzle olive oil on the veggies.  Mix to coat then add spices of your choice.  I used basil, granulated garlic, parsley, salt & pepper.  Roast in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes or until veggies are crisp tender.

Kale Chips

1/2 bunch of curly kale, torn into bite sized pieces

Add kale to a bowl and drizzle with olive oil (or apricot oil) to coat. Sprinkle with granulated garlic and sea salt.  Bake in a 400 degree oven for 4-7 minutes.  Watch closely!  They bake quickly.

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Traveling Gluten Free & Dairy Free

Traveling outside of my familiar city always brings into question the types of foods that might be available for me to eat.  It can be difficult eating safely in areas that do not have the abundance of choices available to me that Portland offers.

Whenever I fly,  one of the most important planning tasks I must accomplish is food preparation.  I want food for my flight and a bit to have on hand in case choices are slim in Charlotte.  Honestly,  I just prefer my own food.  I focus on making snacks and breakfast foods.  I find that lunch and dinner are easier meals to enjoy at restaurants because I can almost always find something on the menu to eat.  It is rare that I find nothing, though it has happened.  Remember that failed cross country road trip I took?   I wrote about it here:  Hello From Wyoming!  My goodness,  what an experience that was!  Currently,  plans are being created to try again,  this time for a successful cross country road trip later this year!   That awful trip is also my reminder to always have plentiful supplies of my kind of food on hand when traveling!

For my latest travel adventure,  I’ll be flying to Charlotte, NC.  In less 24 hours I’ll be hanging out with my boy!   I am so excited!!!   I have not seen my son in over two years and it has been about three and a half years since I have visited him.   This is a long over due trip and visit!!   Even better;  my daughter will be traveling from Boston to join us in Charlotte.  I get to be with both my kids!!!  Did I say I am excited?!!   I am elated we’ll all be together again!!   This time it will be in happiness;  the last time being my mom’s death when we were all together.  We have all kinds of fun things planned and I am looking forward to playing for days with my kids.  Gosh,  do I need this vacation!!   I have taken several small trips over the past year,  but it has been nearly a full year since my last big adventure to Boston.   Remember that trip?  Boston Bonanza  was a blast!   Check out all the food I enjoyed!!   I’ll see how Charlotte has progressed in that area in the years since I have visited.

I make and bring food I know can travel well and remain relatively intact after getting knocked around in my bag.   I have breakfast for the plane,  lunch to eat at my layover,  or more likely run like a champ to my next gate and eat on the plane!   We will see how this lay over goes!   I have a few of my kind of  “essentials”  I like to have on hand tucked away in my carry on.   I am ready for my east coast adventure!

Check out some of the yummy food I am bringing along for my trip!  I didn’t get a chance to grab a picture of the egg and turkey bacon mini casserole I’ll be eating for breakfast in the morning once I settle on the plane.  You know I’ll be eating good!

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savory breakfast pancakes

 

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layover lunch pizza!! YUM!!

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two kinds of hearty, nutritious breakfast cookies!

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can’t forget the treats! gf/df snicker-doodles! Oh, yeah!!

 

 

Kale Chips: The New Office Hero

Things are winding down here at the school house where I work.  We are all exhausted as we come to the final days of our school year.  Classes are finished and we are putting the last of our paperwork in order so we can close the chapter on this year and this school house.  Our head start program will be moving to new facilities in the fall so we have had the additional work of cleaning out cupboards, closets and clearing shelves.  We are packing what we will need next year to take to the new building and making a gigantic pile of things we will not take with us.  These are some hectic days, but instead of contending with children, we are wrangling boxes as we struggle to get through this very busy week.  Many will be “laid off” for the summer come Friday.  I have a few more days and will be in the same place next Wednesday.  Even though it’s expected it can be a stressful transition from full time work to unemployment for two months.  We will return to the complete unknown.

As I rushed out the door for work this morning, I grabbed my bag of kale and some other ingredients so I could make a batch of kale chips at work.  It is a rare opportunity when I get to create some of my kind of food for my co-workers to enjoy.  Mid morning seemed the perfect time to take a break and get a snack going for the office.  These kale chips got rave reviews and immediate inquiries into how I make them taste so good and how to make them without burning them.  (just remember low & slow!)  One of the teachers, who I am particularly fond of, then asked if I would please blog about kale chips.  Well, honestly, she kind of begged me!   I said I would love to blog about them if she came up with a witty title for this blog, thus resulting in what you read above.  (Thanks, teacher K!)  I guess I thought blogging about kale chips was rather dull, but what I discovered is there are many people who love the idea and taste, but really don’t know the best way to create a successful batch.

So, to my very favorite school house mates, I dedicate this to you.  Those who will not move over to the new site will be sorely missed.  (read: advocates!)  What will I do without my hugs and mini reiki sessions, reminders to breath and sweet, empowering quotes I find on my desk.  Sigh….changes, changes.  To all of you who just want to know how to make a fabulous and healthful snack that is simple and quick;  I present my recipe for Kale Chips:

1 bunch of lacinato kale (use all or part of a bunch), washed, dried and torn into bite size pieces, add to large bowl for mixing oil & spices

2 Tablespoons of olive oil, or enough to evenly coat pieces

2-3 Tablespoons of nutritional yeast

5 turns of a pepper mill (or about 1/4 teaspoon)

Using your hands, mix to coat all the kale pieces with oil and spices

Lay pieces onto a ungreased baking sheet in a single layer, making sure they are not touching for full baking goodness.  Put into a 250 degree oven for 15 minutes or until you notice the kale pieces look crisp.  Check your batch often as they can burn quickly.  Once out of the oven, transfer to a bowl and sprinkle with sea salt.  Eat, enjoy, be happy.

Everyone enjoyed them and it was a nice reprieve to indulge in some delicious snack food with the people I work around everyday,  but rarely talk with because we are so darn busy! Kale chips became the office hero today.  We all were required to take pause if we wanted to enjoy their crispy goodness and they are just so good, all you will want to do is sit back, take in a deep breath and relax into your snack.

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