Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Celebrating and Chocolate Blender Mousse

I am celebrating all week this week.  We are leaving on Friday to spend Christmas with Grayson and his people.  Dave is counting down the sleeps for me.  Every night I say good-night, he responds with, "Nine more sleeps." or "Eight more sleeps."

Today will be two more sleeps until we see him, three sleeps for Gman because we get in way after his bedtime and while I'll take a peek at him sleeping, I won't wake him up (on purpose).

We are only staying for the long weekend and coming home on Tuesday, the house sitter shouldn't have to put up with our dogs for too long in one sitting...they are naughty dogs while we are gone.  I'll leave some extra treats for them so they behave and for the house/dog sitter to make it more bearable!
We will be having Christmas dinner with Gman and His People and I know there will be LOTS of goodies around.  So I am taking the dry ingredients for this with me in a little baggie (chopped chocolate, Swerve, cocoa powder, expresso and xanthan gum) and I can blend it together with the rest of it at Gman's People's house.  Then I'll have a delicious dessert and won't be tempted by anything.

So, I won't be visiting with you until we get home and by then the light will have started to return to the interior of Alaska (I think we gain 14 seconds on Dec. 22).  So happy Solstice, Merry Christmas, I hope you enjoyed Hanukkah, Diwali, and will enjoy Kwanzaa or how ever you celebrate this time of year.  I'll be enjoying Christmas morning watching Gman play with the wrapping paper of the very expensive present we bought him.

Peace, love and joy to all.

Chocolate Blender Mousse
Carolyn Ketchum The Everyday Ketogenic Kitchen

2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup Swerve confectioners'-style sweetner
2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. instand espresso powder
1/4 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk or cashew milk
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 large eggs

In a blender, combine the chocolate, sweetener, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and xanthan gum. Pulse a few time to combine.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the cream, milk, and butter.  Bring to a full boil, them immediately pour the scalded cream mixture into the blender and blend until smooth.  quickly add the eggs to the blender and blend again until smooth.  Pour the mousse into 4 dessert cups and chill for at least 1 hour to set.
Makes 4 servings (but it is very rich and next time I'm dividing it into 5 servings)

Tips: make sure the cream-milk mixture is really hot when you add it to your blender, and work quickly to add the eggs.  Eggs are raw in this recipe, but adding them to the hot liquid "cooks" them a bit.  If you are worried about raw eggs, use pasteurized eggs.

Use good unsweetened chocolate like Ghirardelli or Lindt.  Baker's chocolate is more prone to seizing in this recipe.

5 years ago:  My New Nativity

December 20, 2018   Sunrise 10:57 am  Sunset 2:39 pm   Temp. H 21/ L 15˚F

Monday, December 18, 2017

Keto Cheetos and one Awesome Husband

I have to brag on my husband just a little bit.  I've been a bit under the weather with my surgeries, the infection that lasted 6 weeks, and the tiredness that has accompanied it all.  Usually, the day after Thanksgiving, all my Christmas decorations are in place, but with the busyness of Grayson and his people coming up I didn't get that done.  Dave put up most of it on Sunday afternoon as I slept in my chair.  I woke up to a big surprise, all my Santas were out, the tree was up, the village was ready to be put up, and the nativities were ready (he left them for me to put up because I love them so much).  It was such a sweet, special gift of his time.

The next weekend he said we had to get the tree decorated, and so we worked together and got that done.  By the time it was decorated I was done and asleep in my chair.  I came downstairs for a glass of water and he was putting up my small Santa statues in the kitchen.  Again, a wonderful surprise.

This morning I got up and stumbled downstairs for my coffee, and there on the walls were all my Christmas quilts I had collected over the years, quilts I had made and had been made by friends for me and the special quilt I bought when I was expecting the Curly Haired Boy.  I was so surprised and touched I had to cry a little.  Then later in the morning, I noticed he had also put up the decorations from our Advent Calendar and fixed the countdown to Christmas Santa.  He is really going above and beyond.

So, I decided to make him a little treat.  He doesn't like sweets, but he loves Cheetos.  He hasn't been eating them for the last couple of months because of the carbs, and I found a recipe for Keto Cheetos (say that 5 times fast) and thought he might like them. So this morning (Sunday) when he wakes up, he'll have a surprise and a little something to munch on during football.  It isn't as wonderful as everything he has been doing for me, but it's a start.
These are more like the cheese puff texture, not the hard crunchy type of Cheeto.

I sure lucked out in the husband department.

Keto cheetos
I found this on Pinterest but I know it is in one of her books that I have
Maria Emmerich on Pinterest

3 egg whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup freshly shredded cheddar cheese (frozen)
Parmesan cheese, or cheese sprinkles, if desired

Preheat oven to 300˚F.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

 Put the frozen cheese in a food processor/blender and chop until it is in tiny pieces.

In a mixing bowl, whip the egg whites with cream of tartar until very stiff peaks form.  Sprinkle the chopped cheese on top of the egg whites.  Then, with a rubber spatula, fold the cheese into the egg whites being careful not to flatten the fluffy whites, but thoroughly spread the cheese throughout.

Carefully spoon the mixture into a large ziplock baggie and cut a 1/2 inch hole in the corner.  Gently squeeze onto the cookie sheet in Cheeto-like shapes.  Lightly sprinkle parmesan cheese or other cheese sprinkles on top of each puff.

Bake for 20-30 minutes.  The longer you bake them, without them getting too browned, the crispier they will be.  Turn off the oven and leave them in the oven for at least 30 minutes.

Store in tightly sealed container.  Makes 6 servings

1 year ago:    Feeling Ashamed and Apple Fritter Bread
3 years ago:  Christmas Lists and Rice Krispy Treats
5 years ago:  Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies and Cookie Box Memories

December 18, 2017    Sunrise 10:56 am  Sunset 2:39 pm   Temp H 16/ L 11˚F

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Sleeping Pants and Cream Cheese Waffles

I have to set the record straight.  Now, this isn't to embarrass my husband and my dear friend, no, it is simply to set the record straight and let everyone know I was right and they were wrong.  Let me repeat that...

I was right, they were wrong.

I have to say that a couple times because it will never happen again and I want to make sure it isn't soon forgotten.

As you recall, last week I called the pants I sleep in, sleeping pants.  My husband teased me for a week afterwards, actually on Sunday, as he was doing laundry, he again, laughingly, asked for my sleeping pants.  And on Saturday coffee with Donna, I asked her what she called the pants you sleep in she informed me that nobody calls them sleeping pants, and she laughed when she said it, so I didn't even bother to survey the crowd to see if anyone else called them sleeping pants.  I went home and told my husband he was right!

That was an unfortunate and premature move.

Last week I was thumbing through the mail.  We are getting about 14 catalogues every day right now with everyone wanting you to do your holiday shopping with them.  I usually put them in the garbage pile, but Dave was cooking dinner that night so I opened one and started to look through it.  And this is what I found:
SLEEP PANTS.  You read that right, not pajama pants, or lounge wear like my dear husband and bestie had tried to convince me, but sleep pants. I was RIGHT!


So, again, this isn't because I was right and they were wrong, and it's not like I want to hold it over their heads or anything, because I'm kind like that, I just want others who call their night time pants sleeping pants to know they are not alone and not to let anyone laugh at them.

So there, and I do say that with all the love in my heart...(and I wonder why I don't have many friends).

By the way, you can get sleep shorts for the summer too.

So, I celebrated and made myself waffles.

These cream cheese waffles are crisp on the outside and still soft and tender on the inside.  This recipe makes 10 servings so I can put all the extra in the freezer and pop them in the toaster when I'm ready for breakfast.  If you are a fan of chicken and waffles, these are perfect, just reduce the sweetener a bit.

I made these on Sunday morning and ate them in my sleeping pants.

Cream Cheese Waffles
Carolyn Ketchum, The Everyday Ketogenic Kitchen

1 8oz. package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 large eggs
2 Tbsp. heavy cream
1 Tbsp. water
3/4 cup unflavored whey protein powder
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. granulated erythritol sweeter
2 Tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract 1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat waffle iron and butter it well.

In a blender or food processor, combine the cream cheese, melted butter, eggs, cream, and water.  Blend on high for 30 seconds, then scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula.

Add the protein powder, sweetener, baking powder, vanilla extract, and salt and blend for another 30 seconds, until smooth.

Pour about 1/4 cup of the batter into each section of the waffle iron and close the lid.  Cook until the waffles are puffed and golden brown on both sides.  The time will vary depending on your waffle iron.

Remove the waffles and repeat with the remaining batter.  Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to a month.

1 year ago:    One Tough Week
3 years ago:   The Christmas Present Request
5 years ago:   Fruitcake

December 13, 2017   Sunrise  10:49am  Sunset 2:41 pm   Temp. H 38/ L 28˚F

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Lost Jacket and Cinnamon Cream Cheese Kringle

It has been a difficult couple of months, I keep saying that and I need to get over myself, but I am also trying to justify why I can do so many stupid things.

Fairbanks has been unusually mild this fall and winter.  There was a little bit in the fall when it cooled down and we all thought that was it.  That is the time of year I pull out my winter gear and get it ready for the long, dark winter.  Well, then I went to Pittsburgh for work and came home sick, ran around to Anchorage, home, some more work, and time just slipped by.

It was getting colder in Fairbanks and I started looking for my warmer jacket.  I knew I had it before Pittsburgh because I got it out in October.  I couldn't find it.  I checked at work, I called the Seattle kids to see if I left it there on my way home from Pittsburgh when I stopped for the weekend, I asked my husband, I checked the car and Dave's truck.  Nope, no jacket.  I decided I must have taken it to Pittsburgh and left it at the hotel or in an airport, I was really sick and probably just didn't think about it.

I was wearing a lighter coat and hadn't zipped the down liner in it yet, but I was getting ready to.  The kids came for Thanksgiving and we were busy, and it was pretty warm.  The Seattle DIL worked her butt off helping with Thanksgiving and doing dishes non-stop (I'm not exaggerating, her fingers were getting pruny!) So as a thank you, I took her for a pedicure while the three boys hung out.

As we are leaving the nail salon I always go to, Manetta says, "Hey isn't that your coat?"
I turned and looked at the bench where I had thrown my jacket because the coat rack was full when we got there. "Yep, that's the jacket I wore." I said pointing to my jacket on the bench.

"No, that one, hanging up.  Isn't that yours?" she replied.

"Oh my gosh!  Yes it is!" I screeched.  And I did screech.  Everyone in the place turned and looked.

I took the coat off the hanger, checked the pockets, two pink gloves in the pockets, and the inner pocket had the key to my storage unit for work.  No doubt it was my jacket.  I must have worn it when I went for a pedicure before I left for Pittsburgh and forgot to put it on before I left the salon (remember it was a warm fall).  Thank goodness they left it hanging there for me (I mean the Seattle DIL) to find!


So, she saved the day, yet again, and I don't have to zip the liner in my other jacket or buy a new one!
She is a rock star!

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Kringle
Maria Emmerich Keto Comfort Foods

Find the recipe in this book:

1 year ago:     Oreo Cheesecake and Teasing the Baby Boy
3 years ago:   Easiest Pot Roast and Heading the Wrong Way
5 years ago:   Roasted Chicken Thighs with Lemon and Oregano

December 11, 2017   Sunrise 10:45  Sunset 2:42   Temp H 34 /L 25˚F

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Sleeping Pants and Pumpkins Cream Cheese Muffins

The other night I was getting ready for bed.  Dave sleeps with a sheet and a fan on.  Because of the fan I sleep with the sheet, two blankets and the comforter/bead spread.  And now I am sleeping with long pants.  I used to sleep in a long t-shirt but I was waking up cold since I've been battling this infection in my chest, so I've started wearing pants.

Now, I have lots of flannel pajama pants I wear in the mornings when I get up at 5:30 and have my quiet cup of coffee next to the fire, but I found those a little too heavy to sleep in.  I have one pair in particular that is a lighter fabric, doesn't stick to the sheets like the flannel kinds, and keeps me warm enough to sleep through the night with my 2 blankets and comforter.  Perfect!

So, Dave does the laundry and the other night, as I was getting ready for bed, I asked Dave, "Did you wash my sleeping pants?  Are they in the laundry room?"

"What are sleeping pants?" He asked with a laugh.
"You know, the pants I sleep in." I replied, surprised. (He had mentioned he noticed I was wearing them to bed recently.)
"Nobody calls them sleeping pants." He scoffed.
"Yes they do, what else would you call them?"
"Nope, everyone calls them pajama pants, pajama bottoms or just pajamas." He is laughing hard now.
"I don't think so," I'm getting a little annoyed, "You don't know what you are talking about." I declare.
"Ask Donna when you go to coffee on Saturday.  Better yet, make it the survey question of the day." He is really getting a good laugh rolling now.
"I will, and you'll see you are wrong." I say indignantly.

Boy, I'll show him.

So, on Saturday, I'm having coffee with Donna, ready to survey the crowd I asked her first, "What do you call the pants you sleep in?"
Her answer? "Pajamas."
Just like that, no thought to it or anything.
"Really, what about sleeping pants?" I asked.
She starts to laugh, "No one calls them sleeping pants."
"So, I shouldn't survey the crowd and ask them what they call the pants you sleep in?"
"Well," she states, trying to alleviate the hurt look on my face, "Some people might call them lounge pants, but not sleeping pants."

So I didn't survey the crowd that day, and I had to go home and tell Dave that he was correct and I was wrong mistaken, and no one but me calls them sleeping pants.  But I will forever call them sleeping pants, just to annoy my husband.

Now, in the morning, after you change out of your sleeping pants and put your pajama pants on for your coffee, you can whip up these pumpkin, cream cheese muffins.  I made them when the kids were here and everyone loved them. They were surprised to find out they were grain free and sugar free.  The curly haired boy did say he thought there was almond meal in the muffin because of the texture, and that was before I told him, but he enjoyed them.  Gman loved his, and that is all that really matters!

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
Maria Emmerich Keto Comfort Foods

Muffin batter
1 1/2 c. blanced almond flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 cup Swerve confectioner's style sweetener, or your choice of equivalent sweetener
3 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree, fresh or canned

Cream Cheese Filling
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
1/4 cup Swerve confectioners' style sweetener, or your choice of equivalent sweetener
1 large egg yolk
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325˚F.  Place paper liners in 6 -8 wells of a standard-sized muffin pan. (The original recipe calls for 6, but they were really full and I made 7, next time I'm just going for 8).

In a large mixing bowl, stir the almond flour, baking soda, salt and spices until well combined.  In another bowl, mix together the butter, sweetener, eggs and pumpkin until smooth.  Stir the wet ingredients into the dry.  Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling each about two thirds full.

To make the filling , using a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese in a medium-sized bowl until smooth.  Add the sweetener, egg yolk, and vanilla and beat until well combined.  Top each muffin with about 1 tablespoon of the cream cheese filling and use a toothpick to swirl it into the batter.

Bake the muffins for 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffins comes out clean.  Allow to cool before removing from the pan.  Store extras in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  Reheat on a baking sheet in a preheated 350˚ F oven for 5 minutes or until warmed through.

1 year ago:    Orangesicle Champagne

December 6, 2017   Sunrise 10:34 am  Sunset 2:49 pm  Temp. H 26/L 15˚F

Monday, December 4, 2017

Leek Confit

The last job I had from our garden is taking care of all the leeks.  Dave pulled them last fall and piled them in the bottom of the garage fridge.  I was gone for work, then surgery and I just wasn't feeling like dealing with them, but that is one beauty of leeks; they stay in the garden until the last minute and they keep in a cool dark place for a long time.

But now it was time.  I needed to do something with them before they started to spoil.  I used some in a few recipes, but I needed to take care of all of them now.

I made leek confit.  You cook the leeks in butter and a little salt until they are reduced and the flavor is concentrated.  It takes some time but the hardest part of this is cutting the leeks.  It turned out I had 3 (18 cups) batches of leek confit to make, so it was an all-morning project, with most of that time reading cookbooks, scrolling through Facebook, and complaining to Dave how long it takes!

Now I have frozen containers of deliciousness to use in omelets and quiche, on sandwiches, I love it on top of cream cheese as part of a cheese plate or a little nibble with a cocktail, warmed and used to top chicken, pork, or  beef,  added to chicken soup, potato and leek soup, or added to a vegetable or rice dish to add an subtle layer of extra flavor.

I don't think this is really a "recipe" and it is very flexible.  The leeks cook down to a jammy sweetness.  It keeps in the fridge for a week, but I bet it won't last that long.  I freeze this in 2 cup containers and when I pull one out to use, any left-over is gobbled up on Dave's lunch, (usually he eats left-overs from dinner the night before).

Make sure you wash your leeks well, they are known to be gritty.  Swish them around in water after you cut them and pull the leeks up out of the water after they sit for a few minutes, leaving the grit at the bottom of the bowl.  I use my salad spinner to get as much water out as possible, but a bit of dampness helps them cook, so don't dry them completely.  If you wash them ahead of time and they are totally dry, add a couple tablespoons of water to the leeks when you start to cook them.  It will evaporate in the end of cooking.

Leek Confit

1/4 cup butter
6-7 cups leeks, cut into 1/4 inch half moon slices and washed well (about 4 very large or 5-6 medium)
     use the white and light green part only
1/2 tsp. salt
1-2 Tbsp. water, if needed

Melt butter, over medium-low heat, in a large, heavy bottomed pot or skillet.  Add leeks and salt (water if needed).  Add leeks and stir to coat with butter.  Cover pot and cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove cover and cook 5 minutes more or until the liquid is evaporated.  Leeks should have a thick, almost jammy consistency.  Cool and store in refrigerator for 1 week or freeze for 6 months.

1 year ago:    Oat, Seed and Nut Crackers
3 years ago:  Sometimes Homemade Bread is Love, Even if You Use a Bread Machine
5 years ago:  A Month full of Cookies and Cranberry, Pistachio Coins

December 4, 2017   Sunrise 10:28 am  Sunset 2:53 pm   Temp. H 26/ L16°F