Friday, May 29, 2020

Blackberry Cobbler

I think I've mentioned this before, but my new co-workers are assholes.  They have developed some new, and very annoying habits, like loudly messing around in the next room and wanting all kinds of attention when I go to the employee kitchen for a cup of coffee.  One of my co-workers yells, over and over, so I can look at his current favorite office supplies, o.k. it's a toy, but he still yells, over and over and over...

It is great topped with ice cream, or a drizzle of heavy cream
if you are eating it for breakfast.
I have been taking the dogs for a walk during my lunch.  It helps get rid of some of their energy and I have a couple hours right after, of quiet uninterrupted work while they nap.  It is very productive time for me, but soon enough they wake up and demand to be let out, get drinks, need pets.  I'm using all my break time to take care of them instead of all the things I planned on doing during my union breaks, like updating my blog.  And work is busier than ever!

So, enough complaining.  I do love those dogs, as annoying as they are.

Well,I bought a big container of blackberries at Costco.  I like to have 8 (not 7 and not 9) at breakfast but I wasn't eating them fast enough to get through the giant container before they spoiled, so I made this blackberry cobbler.  It was delicious.  The almond flour cookie topping is wonderful on its own but together it is a delicious dessert or lovely breakfast.  Just eat it before the coworkers decide they need some, or yell at you to look at their new toy.

Blackberry Cobbler

20 oz. blackberries
3 Tbsp. Swerve, divided
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp. xanthan gum
1 egg
4 Tbsp. butter
1/4 tsp. stevia glycerate
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup almond flour

Preheat oven to 350°F
Mix blackberries,1 Tbsp. Swerve, lemon juice, and xanthan gum, pour into greased cast iron skillet or  8X8 oven proof pan.  In a medium bowl mix egg, butter, 2 Tbsp. Swerve, stevia, vanilla extract and almond flour.  It will be a stiff cookie dough consistency.  Drop by spoonfuls over blueberries and spread to cover most of the fruit.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until fruit is bubbly and crust is a golden brown. 
Serves 6-8

1 year ago:    Poached Garlic Dressing and the Rough Day
3 years ago:  Updated Wedge Salad
5 years ago:  Compound Butter and the Joy of an Airline Upgrade

May 29, 2020  Sunrise 3:39 am  Sunset 12:00 am  Temp. H 75/ L 53°F

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Chicken Scaloppine

I don't know what is going on with work.  This is usually a time of the year where things slow down a little, especially since I didn't have any spring travel, but I am busier than ever.  I have all kinds of saved time, like a shorter commute to work and home, no line for the employee bathroom, I never have to wait for the microwave when I heat up my lunch and there isn't a line at the coffee pot so I don't waste time waiting or visiting.  So, why do I sit down, get to work and suddenly the day is over and I'm rushing to get dinner going? 

And to make matters worse, I didn't plan well last night.  I had lemon chicken planned for dinner with fried cauliflower rice, but when I started dinner, I didn't have any lemons!  So I had to come up with plan B.  The cauliflower rice turned into mashed cauliflower and the Lemon Chicken turned into Chicken Scaloppine.  I had everything I needed, thank goodness.

We had a sunny dinner and half way through Dave said it was good (high praise since he doesn't like chicken) and then he said he would eat it again!  You can bet I'll put this in the regular rotation, quick, easy and Dave likes it.

Chicken Scaloppine

2 chicken breasts
salt and pepper
avocado oil
8 oz. sliced mushrooms, I like baby bellas
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chicken bone broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp. juice from caper jar
1/8-1/4 tsp. xanthan gum
1 Tbsp. capers
chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Heat sauté pan over medium heat, salt and pepper chicken on both sides, add oil to pan and brown chicken breasts on both sides.  Remove chicken from pan and keep warm.
Add mushrooms to pan and cook to let mushrooms release juices 3-5 minutes, add garlic stirring for about 1 minute.  Add bone broth to pan and deglaze pan, scraping any stuck bits to the bottom of the pan, add cream and juice from capers.  Return chicken to pan and simmer for 5-8 minutes.  Remove chicken and mushrooms from pan to serving plate.  Add xanthan gum to sauce to thicken (I like to start small and add more if needed - less is better here).  Once thick pour sauce over chicken and mushrooms, top with capers and parsley.  Serves 2.

1 year ago:    Keto Margarita
5 years ago:  The New "Camper"
7 years ago:  Manilla Clams and The Night I Almost Died

May 14, 2020  Sunrise 4:29 am  Sunset 11:08 pm  Temp. H 57/ L 42°F

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Paint Your Own Cookies and Weekend Chores

It's been several months since I've made sugar cookies.  With social distancing and everyone a little on edge, I didn't want to make a bunch of cookies I couldn't give away.  Well, Fairbanks has had about a dozen total cases and we went 14 days without a new incident (update: we've had some more positive cases since I wrote this) I thought I would make some cookies and give them to the neighbor kids and send some to Gman.  I made paint your own cookies and figured it would be something for them to do.

I just made basic sugar cookies added a teaspoon of berry extract and 1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles.  Then I frosted them with a lemon flavored royal icing
After I flooded the cookie, I used a stiff royal icing and outlined some flowers, butterflies, rainbows and ladybugs. 

Once they were dry I wrapped them up and sent them on their way with disposable brushes and these cute little food color pain squares I got from The Flour Box.  It was a fun, relaxing way to spend a couple of hours decorating cookies.
Dave, on the other hand, is at war with the voles in the yard.  They ate about 1/3 of the front yard and Dave was not having it.  He set 47 traps throughout the yard and is hoping to get rid of them before they move inside.  He loaded the traps with peanut butter and every morning and evening he "walks the trap line" to see what he got.  I think I had more fun than he did last weekend.

5 years ago:  Summer Salad

May 6, 2020  Sunrise 4:57am  Sunset 10:40pm  Temp H 63/ L 37°F

Thursday, April 30, 2020

The Accidental Cracker

Because I made bread for Dave, I was thinking I could use some too.  I used to make a seed bread that I really loved and ran across a recipe for a keto seed bread I thought might be good.  I gathered the ingredients, mixed everything together and baked it.  The loaf came out dense, damp and dull.  I was so disappointed and I don't know what I did wrong.  I read through the comments from the recipe and saw that it was a 50/50 response as to wether people felt successful or not, so I figured I'd try it again.  I measured carefully, mixed, baked and....yuck.

So now I had two very expensive bricks.  Nuts and seeds are not cheap and I just wasted a lot of them.  I decided to cut the "bread", bake it again, kind of like biscotti are twice baked, and make some crackers.  I cut the loaves, baked low and slow, and it worked perfectly.  They are crisp, crunchy and perfect for cream cheese and jam, garlic herb cheese, or plain.  I love cheese crackers and salami for lunch and these are great just for that.  This is one baking mistake I'm glad I made.

Seed Crackers
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, pepitas
1 cup ground psyllium husks
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup warm water

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease a loaf pan, set aside.
In a large bowl mix sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, psyllium husks and coconut flour.  Place half the mixture in a food processor or grinder and grind until a rough flour-like consistency is achieved.  Place flour back in bowl with whole seeds.  Add baking powder, salt, butter, eggs and warm water, mix well.

Pour into prepared loaf pan and smooth top.  Bake for 35 minutes.  Remove from oven and reduce oven temperature to 250°F. Let loaf cool slightly.  Slice into 18-20 thin pieces and place on a sheet tray with a wire rack to allow air flow across the top and bottom of the crackers.  Bake for 20 minutes, turning about half way through.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Crackers crisp as they cool.
Enjoy with your favorite toppings.

April 30, 2020   Sunrise 5:18 am  Sunset 10:19 pm  Temp. H 44/ L 26°F

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Potato Sandwich Bread and Getting the Lawn Ready

Spring is a wonderful time.  The days in Fairbanks are long, the sun is out, it is getting warmer, usually the high 40's to mid 50's.  Dave can't wait to get outside and work in the yard.  He likes to have the first green lawn and he has a few tricks that helps him get there.

When most of the snow is gone he likes to mow the lawn.  This starts to get the dead grass off and clean things up a little, even if you have to mow around the snow banks.

Then he begins to shovel the snowbanks and throw the snow around the yard so it melts faster.  

He will do this every day until the snow is all melted and he will mow again, about 4 times.  Then he aerates, then he vacuums, then he mows again.  When it gets warm enough he feeds and waters it and then mows twice a week all summer.  He puts a lot of work into our lawn and it does look beautiful.  So I decided to make him a treat.  He doesn't have a sweet tooth so cookies or a cake aren't for him.  He did mention he was craving some white sandwich bread.  I don't bake bread anymore since I don't eat it, and we never got in the habit of buying it so we usually just don't have it.  I do love to bake bread, I love the whole process of mixing, kneading, letting it rise, the yeasty smell of the dough, punching it down and shaping into loaves.... so I made him some.  And then I made him some hamburger buns.  He needs lots of energy to finish the lawn.

Potato Loaf Sandwich Bread and Buns

1 pkg. dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 Tbsp. sugar
3 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. butter, softened
2 Tbsp. instant mashed potato flakes
1 cup warm milk

In a small bowl mix 1/2 cup warm water with yeast and sugar, set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, or your stand mixer with a dough hook, add flour, salt, butter potato flakes and warm milk, add yeast mixture and stir or on low if using a stand mixer.  Mix well.  Then turn dough out and knead for 5-10 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic, adding as little extra flour as possible or knead in bowl on medium high for 5 minutes.
Spray bowl with oil and return dough to bowl, cover with a tea towel and let rise for 1 hour or until double in size.  Be sure to place bowl in a warm part of your kitchen (I turn the oven on, let it heat to 105°F, turn the oven off and then proof the dough in the oven with the door cracked).

In the meantime, grease a bread pan well with oil and set aside (if making buns grease a 9X13 pan).

Once dough is double in size, remove from bowl, knead a few times to remove any large air bubbles and shape into a loaf or into about 9-12 buns (I like to weigh my dough and make 2 oz. buns for burgers).  Place dough into pan, cover and let rise a second time for 45-60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Bake for 25-35 minutes until top is golden brown and loaf sounds a bit hollow when tapped.  Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes, remove from pan and cool completely before cutting.

April 28, 2020  Sunrise 5:25 am  Sunset 10:12 pm  Temp. h46/ L 26°F

Friday, April 24, 2020

Raspberry Gin Daisy and Being Graceful

I want everyone to know, if I end up in the hospital and I am covered in bruises, my husband does not beat me, I am just that clumsy.  Dave likes to say that grace hits once every 15 seconds wether I need it or not...I always need it, but I don't think it shows up that often.

Yesterday morning, I was working away and needed to refill my coffee cup.  I went into the employee kitchen, plopped my mug under the Keurig and started a fresh cup.  I remembered I wanted to show Dave something on my phone so I turned around and headed down the hall to my office to find my phone.  I was thinking about where my phone was and talking to Dave when I tripped over the gate at the end of the hallway, bounced off the trim to the laundry room and fell flat on my face.  Not my most graceful moment.  Dave heard me bounce and came running.  I took a minute to make sure everything was still working (everything did), checked the wall for cracks or blood smears (there weren't any) and began to feel foolish.  I never did show Dave what ever it was that I thought I needed to show him, I went back for my coffee and got right back to work to hide my embarrassment and lick my wounds.

Well, after a fall like that I decided I needed an adult beverage that evening.  I made a Raspberry Gin Daisy.  Make this with this raspberry simple syrup for a fruity pink spin on the drink, or you can use plain simple syrup and add a little orange flavoring for a citrusy drink.  You'll have to have one of each to see which you like better.  But if you do, be careful, you'll be walking (and falling) like I did yesterday morning.

Gin Daisy
2 oz. gin
1 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. raspberry simple syrup or 1 oz. plain simple syrup and 1/4 tsp. orange extract
sparkling water
fresh or frozen raspberries for garnish, optional

In a shaker full of ice add gin, lemon juice, simple syrup (and orange extract if using).  Shake until very cold, strain into an old fashioned glass and top with a little sparkling water.

April 24, 20202   Sunrise 5:40 am  Sunset 9:59 pm  Temp. H 38/ L 26°F

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Zoom lunch

I had lunch with a friend the other day.  I think she read my blog and was feeling sorry for me, so she scheduled a lunch meeting.  She sat in her house in Colorado and I sat in mine in Alaska and we ate our lunch and visited.  And I realized that I really need a haircut!

She caught me up on their house projects, the girls and the pups.  I whined  told her about not leaving the house for 5 weeks, work and caught her up with all my kids.  It was such a nice break and made me really miss when they were our backyard neighbors and the summer evenings on our deck when we would share a bottle of wine and laugh into the night.

It's the little things like this lunch date and Facetime with Gman, Donna and my parents that are keeping us going.  That and jail breaks the fact that I snuck out of the house last week and went on an adventure to JoAnn's.

Dave was busy in a zoom meeting for work and I had to go to the parking lot of my work to get on the wifi and download some forms from our server.  I also needed some supplies for mask making I was doing for the kids.  The California kids need masks to go out of the house or face fines, and the Seattle kids needed a couple extra each so I planned on making masks over the weekend. 

I told Dave I was going to head over to the parking lot to download the forms I needed and he logged on to his zoom meeting. 
I grabbed my laptop, my mask and I was out the door.  I went to work and got what I needed without leaving the car and then I drove over to Joann's.  I donned my mask and headed into the store for a few things.  I was home in about 45 minutes total and Dave asked what took me so long.  I explained about the mask making items and how I wore my mask and I went straight to the sink to wash my hands. 

I'm grounded now. 

April 21, 2020  Sunrise 5:51am  Sunset 5:49pm  Temp. H 40/ L 34°F

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Keeping a Positive Attitude, Week 5

I'm finishing up week 5 of working from home.  I want to complain but I also understand how very fortunate I am that I can work from home, I have a warm home to shelter in place in, I have a wonderful husband, my children are all safe and healthy and sheltering in place in their own homes around the country, I have enough to eat, and I have toilet paper, with a few rolls to spare (no, I didn't hoard tp, I just bought a case at Costco, like I always do, in early February and we haven't used it all yet). So, I am getting a little tired of only my company during work hours, Dave winning 3 out of 4 games of cribbage after dinner, the terms "the new normal" and "unprecedented times" and snow, because we still have a butt-load of it.

I need to work on my attitude, even by gratitude journal is getting a little monotonous.  I'm trying to keep things in a routine (I do better with that), eating healthily, walking outside when possible, and touching base with family and friends, but I am over this.  I want everything to go back to how it was, I want to drive down to the fabric store and just wander around and shop, I want to meet a friend for coffee, I want to throw a tantrum....

I guess we all have those moments, and I'm having mine.  So I need to pull my big girl panties up and soldier on with a more positive attitude.  And when I need a more positive attitude, I make myself treats.  So this week for breakfast, I made myself some pumpkin spice toaster waffles (my little dash waffle maker makes the perfect size for the toaster) from All Day I Dream About Food.  I am eating them with some sugar free maple syrup and toasted pecans.  Add a couple of sausage links and the day is off to a better start.

Find the Pumpkin Waffles here.

For lunch, I've been craving salad.  So I made a lovely salad and eat them with these crackers from Sugar Free Mom.  I like to toast them in my air fryer so they are warm and crunchy. I used the recipe for her Quick Keto Toast and just cut them into smaller cracker size pieces.

And I've reinstated the daily drink, but with no alcohol.  I've been enjoying the Lava Flow from Maria Mind Body Health.  I made a whole batch but only mix the ice in with a single serving each evening.  Sometimes I add the  strawberry on top, sometimes I don't and sometimes I just mix the strawberry into the whole thing.  Any way it is a delicious way to end the day.

So I am working on my attitude, one meal at a time.  I'm walking outside more, riding my stationary bike, and still writing in my gratitude journal and meditating. What do you do to help you get through the hard days?

April 16, 2020  Sunrise 6:09 am  Sunset 9:33 pm  Temp H 42/ L 30°F 

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Home Made Toaster Pastries

When I was a kid, getting a box of Pop tarts was a big treat.  I loved the smell of the sugar when you opened the package, the hot toasty pastry when it came out of the toaster and the warm jam in the middle and the sugary frosting on the top.  As a kid, it was pure heaven. So, you can imagine my delight when I found these Further Food sugar free, grain free toaster pastries!
Close to my childhood memory, if it is toasted.
While they have some ingredients I wouldn't normally eat, they are a nice weekend treat, until I had them a couple days in a row with some unpleasant side effects. I re-read the ingredients and there is was, hiding about half way down...Allulose.  I don't tolerate Allulose so I was determined to find a substitute.  I've come pretty close with these, a warm toasty pastry, jam oozing from under the crust, I just need some frosting to complete these home made toaster pastries.

The pastry came from the blog Gnom-Gnom.  I added two tablespoons of Swerve to sweeten it up.  The jam came from my freezer.  Together, they were a warm delicious treat on a cold morning.  I warm them up in my air fryer, they are a little too delicate for the toaster, I'll keep working on them to see if I can make a pastry sturdy enough to pop in the toaster.  I'll just keep eating my practice batches.

Home Made Toaster Pastries
1 batch Gnom-Gnom's Pastry with 2 Tbsp. granulated Swerve added to the dry ingredients
1/2 cup sugar free jam of choice, I used this strawberry jam
1 egg, beaten for egg wash

Make pastry according to directions.  Press into a rectangle, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.  Roll pastry to 1/8" thick, keeping it in a rectangle as much as possible.  Trim edges and press dough together to make pastry a rectangle.  Cut into 16 pieces.  Place 8 pieces of the pastry on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Press a small indention into bottom with a spoon.  Put about 1 Tbsp. of jam in indention.  Cover with another piece of pastry and press together.  Us a fork to crimp edges.  Freeze for about 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Beat 1 egg with a teaspoon of water.  Remove pastries from freezer.  Brush with egg wash and then cut vents into top of each.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until pastry is golden brown.

April 14, 2020   Sunrise 6:17am  Sunset 9:27pm  Temp H 45/ L 26°F

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Truck Update, Making Groceries Last and French 75

Dave has found some extra time to work on the truck.  It has been sitting for a while because he has decided he doesn't like working on it with me.  I am not strong enough, I don't know what I am doing, and I try his patience, so he works on the truck and I ooohhhh and aaaahhh over the results.  This is really a win-win because working on the truck isn't my favorite thing to do.
He has made a lot of progress.

So, he has made some progress.  The new fuel pump is on, the new carburetor is on, some rust stopping paint has been applied, new water pumps installed and the new fenders made it to town!  I am very excited.

While he is busy in the garage with the truck, I'm busy at work or in the house.  Dave did the grocery shopping about two weeks ago, and while we have plenty to last the next month, some of the fresh produce is at the end of its fresh life.  I roasted the last of the fresh tomatoes and will be making tomato soup. I froze the last two heads of cauliflower for later use, and I froze some bell peppers before they all had to be thrown away.

I have reinstated the one adult drink a week rule. I should make a rule about wearing real pants at least one day a week so be sure I can still fit in them, but I don't really need that kind of negativity right now.  This drink of the week, the French 75, is a classic.  You can make it with gin or vodka and you can make a simple syrup or just mix a little confectioner's Swerve into the drink to make it a bit easier.

French 75

1/2 oz. lemon juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup or 1 tsp. granulated Swerve, or sweetener of choice
1 oz. gin, I love Bombay Gin
3 oz. champagne
lemon twist

Cut a ribbon of lemon zest from a lemon, set aside.  Cut lemon and juice it, set aside.

In a shaker, filled with ice, add lemon juice, simple syrup or sweetener and gin.  Shake well, strain into glass.  Top with champagne.  Twist the lemon peel over the top of the drink and then add it.  Enjoy.
We woke up to this snow this weekend.  I don't know
why he is clearing the cars, it's not like we can
go anywhere!

1 year ago:    Rhubarb Coffee Cake and the Mean Trick
7 years ago:   Oven Baked Onion Rings

April 9, 2020  Sunrise 6:35 am  Sunset 9:11 pm  Temp H26/ L 8°F

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

No Netflix and Rhubarb Coffee Cake

I guess it is a sign of the times.  Everyone is staying home, so everyone is binging on Netflix.  After dinner, dishes and a game of cribbage, Dave and I watch something on tv.  Lately we've been watching Outlander on Starz.  The last several nights, when we tried to log on, we get the spinning wheel of death, and there isn't enough band width in our neighborhood to get the show.  We end up watching what ever is on regular tv and just going to bed early.

We also got more snow.  While most of the real world is turning green, we are still getting a ton of snow.  My daily checklist looks like this:
1)Who am I checkin on or connecting with today?  Dave, as we shovel snow.
2)What expectations of normal am I letting go of today? I'm not wearing real pants, only snow pants, so I can shovel snow.
3)How am I getting outside today? I'm going outside to shovel snow.
4)How am I moving my body today? I'm shoveling snow.
5)How am I expressing my creativity today?  I'm shoveling snow in patterns.
6)What type of self care am I practicing today?  I'm taking an epson salt bath after I shovel snow.
7)What am I grateful for today? That I'm getting a lot of steps in while I shovel snow.

I'm starting to feel like Spring will never get here.  One bright spot in my week is a newsletter I've started getting from the greenhouse I use every year.  When they start sending out their newsletter, I know there is hope for warmer weather.  And the pictures of the beautiful flowers from last year are always a bright spot in my day.

Now, in the real world, spring is a time for rhubarb.  In Alaska, rhubarb is still buried deep under the snow, but I did find one more container in my freezer.  So that, along with some frozen raspberries from my garden, made this delicious rhubarb coffee cake.  While it is still frozen and currently snowing outside, this coffee cake gave me a little taste of spring.

Raspberry Rhubarb Coffee Cake
for cake:
2 cups rhubarb
1 cup raspberries
1/2 cup granulated Swerve, or granulated sweetener of choice, divided
3 cup almond flour
1/3 cup unflavored whey protein powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla extract

for topping:
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 Tbsp. pecans, chopped
1 Tbsp. granulated Swerve, or granulated sweetener of choice
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease a 9" springform pan well.

In a medium bowl, mix rhubarb, raspberries and 2 Tbsp. sweetener, set aside.

In a large bowl mix almond flour, whey protein powder, baking powder, the remaining sweetener and salt.  Add melted butter, eggs, water and vanilla extract, mix well.  Pour half the mixture into prepared pan, top with rhubarb and raspberries, top with the rest of the batter, carefully spreading to cover rhubarb.
Bake for 30 minutes.

While cake is baking mix almond flour, coconut, pecans, sweetener and butter until it makes coarse crumbs.  Remove cake from oven, top with crumble, cover with foil and bake for an additional 20-30 minutes, until the center is firm to the touch.  Remove from oven and run a sharp knife around the edge of the cake.  Let cool 30 minutes, run a sharp knife around edge again and carefully remove ring of springform pan.  Let cool completely.

1 year ago:    Update on the Truck and Cheese Wrapped Hotdogs
7 years ago:   Failed Quiche

April 7, 2020  Sunrise 6:42 am  Sunset 9:04 pm  Temp H 28 / L 1°F