Monday, August 31, 2020

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Mug Cake

I'm a little sad today.  Today, the Prize Patrol was out, awarding someone with $7,000 a week for life, and it wasn't me.  I was really counting on that money so I could retire and move closer to the grandboys.  But no, I was not the happy recipient.  So, I'll have to continue working, visiting my grandboys when I can and console myself with cake.

This mug cake is a peanut butter lover's dream. I love the combination of chocolate and peanut butter.  This makes 2 mug cakes, but Dave doesn't like peanut butter so I guess that means I'll have to eat both of them myself.  Not as good as $7,000 a week for life, but it will do!

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Mug Cake

2 Tbsp. peanut butter, no sugar added
1 Tbsp.  butter
1 Tbsp. water
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. Swerve, or sweetener of choice
5-7 drops of stevia, to sweetness desired
1 tsp. baking powder
3 Tbsp. almond flour
1 large egg
1-2 tsp. sugar free chocolate chips

In a microwave safe small bowl, add peanut butter, butter and water.  Microwave 30 seconds or until you can mix all the ingredients together and they are melted.  Mix well until creamed.

Stir in sweeteners, baking powder, almond flour and beaten egg.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Transfer to two microwave safe mugs.  Microwave each mug, separately, for 60 seconds or until center is cooked.

Serve with a drizzle of chocolate, whipped cream, or warmed peanut butter...or all three!

1 year ago:    The New Family Member and Keto Cheese Sticks 
7 years ago:   Cobb Salad and Putting Up the Winter Wood

August 31, 20202  Sunrise 6:30 am  Sunset 9:09 pm  Temp. H 60/ L 46°F

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Zucchini Soup

I don't know how this happens.  I check the zucchini, cut all that are ready and move on.  The next day Dave asks why I have a monster zucchini and when am I going to cut it.  It wasn't there yesterday, I checked, it must have grown overnight.

Well, last Friday, I checked the zucchini and gave it all to my neighbor.  At this point I have 16 2-cup bags of shredded zucchini in my freezer and that is more than I'll use this year for bread and in soups, stews and chili.  Monday afternoon, during my break, I went outside and found this:
How did these grow so fast?  They weren't there on Friday.

And a whole basket of small ones, yes, even ones with the
blossoms still attached.  I picked these and then pulled
the plants.  I've over it.

Yes, I'm over zucchini.  I've eaten it grated, fried, pattyed, baked, caked, breaded, chipped, stuffed, spiralized and now souped.

This soup is delicious.  A nice creamy soup to start a meal or a big bowl for lunch.  You can make this up to the point of adding the cream, and freeze it for later.  Add the cream and sour cream when you thaw and reheat it.  I'm making a quadruple batch for the freezer, I have enough zucchini.  I'm going to be happily swimming in zucchini soup for the winter.

Keto Zucchini Soup
1 Tbsp. avocado oil or coconut oil
6 cups chopped zucchini
3 cloves garlic
4 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. dried thyme]
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup heavy cream

optional toppings:
diced, fried bacon or pancetta
heavy cream, for swirls
parmesan Whisps
extra virgin olive oil

In a medium stock pot, heat avocado oil, add zucchini and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring so it doesn't burn.  Add chicken broth and dried thyme, bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, blend soup until smooth.  Alternatively, you can process in a blender with a steam vent covered by a towel, in two batches.  Return to stockpot and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add cream and sour cream and heat through.

Serve in bowls or cups, using a spoon pour heavy cream in a swirl over the top and sprinkle crisped pancetta over the top, or top with cheese Whisps.

1 year ago:    Sugar Free Peanut Butter Truffles and Getting Rained Out.
3 years ago:   Taco Breakfast Bake
7 years ago:   Rhubarb Muffins and the First Fall Frost

August 26, 2020  Sunrise 6:14 am  Sunset 9:28 pm  Temp. H 62/ L 46°F

Monday, August 24, 2020

Chocolate Mug Cake and the Last Camping Trip

I think I just had my last camping trip for the season.  Dave will be in Moose Camp starting next weekend until the end of September, and come October, it may be too cold.  So, I enjoyed the morning and evening campfires, went on a couple 4 wheeler rides, soaked in the view, and batted away the gnats that were everywhere!

It was also the weekend for 4-wheeler accidents.  Dave and I went out to get some firewood.  Mooree was running with Dave and I was a couple minutes behind.  I was about to turn off the trail to where the wood was and Mooree ran right in front of me.  I turned and hit a big hole, and the 4-wheeler went over.  I pushed off the wheeler, so it wouldn't land on me, and landed hard.  Dave had to turn my wheeler over by himself and drive me back to camp.  I took some good anti-inflammatory and had a nap, thinking I had messed up my fake hip.  Luckily, the meds worked and I limped around the rest of the day but no real damage.  I was thanking my lucky stars it wasn't worse. I did have a sore hip the rest of the weekend but Motrin and a couple dirty martinis helped.

And now that I'm home, chocolate cake helps.  I'm trying to keep that leg stretched, but not get it sore and a trip to the microwave to bake this little puppy up is just the medicine I need!  Chocolate helps everything.

Chocolate Mug Cake

2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. Almond Flour
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 Tsp. Erythritol
5-6 drops stevia, depending on sweetness desired
2 tsp. cocoa flour
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 large egg

Optional stir-ins:
mini chocolate chips

Optional toppings:
sugar free chocolate syrup
whipped cream
heavy whipping cream
sugar free caramel
sugar free frosting

In a large mug or a microwave safe bowl, melt the butter.  Ads all the other ingredients and mix will.  Microwave for 60-70 seconds (start with 60 and then check, add 10 seconds until cake is completely baked).  Let cool slightly, top with sugar free chocolate syrup, heavy cream or whipped cream.

1 year ago:    Easy Cordon Bleu and the Toe Issue
3 years ago:   Zucchini Tots
7 years ago:   Happy Homemaker - Drink of the Week

August 24, 20202  Sunrise 6:08 am  Sunset 9:35 pm  Temp. H 64/ L 48°F

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Cauliflower "Mac" and Cheese and Putting up the Garden

I'm not a big gardener, I plant just enough to make me feel like a gardener.  I have 4 raised beds I use to grow some veggies and I like lots of flowers.

This year I planted 12 cauliflower plants, 6 of broccoli, 6 cabbages, 2 eggplant (for the first time), Swiss chard, lettuce, radishes, 4 green zucchini and 2 yellow squash, 2 cucumber plants and the tomatoes in the greenhouse.

Now, this year it rained a lot, so watering was pretty easy...I didn't have to do it much, which is a good thing because my dad isn't here to water for me.  But the problem with my garden is that everything is ready at the same time! I put harvesting off as long as possible (you can see in the picture below, one of my cauliflowers started to spread), but I finally had to deal with all that broccoli and cauliflower.

Freezing broccoli and cauliflower doesn't take a lot of work, just be organized and follow the steps.

Why does it all have to be ready at the same time?
Freezing Cauliflower and Broccoli

1) Cut cauliflower (and Broccoli) from garden, bring inside and wash.

2) Place large stock 2/3 full of water on stove and heat to a roiling boil.

3) While water is heating, cut cauliflower into desired sized florets.

4) Set up ice bath in sink, cold water and lots of ice (in Fairbanks we can skip the ice, our water comes out of the tap that cold)

5) Place several layers of towels on a table or big counter.

6) Once water is boiling, generously salt the water (this is optional)

7) Place about 4-6 cups of florets in the boiling water and set timer for 5 minutes for cauliflower or 3 minutes for broccoli.

8) When the time beeps, remove the florets from the boiling water (I use a big skimmer) and place in the ice bath until all the florets are cold. While one batch of florets are cooling, I start another batch in the boiling water.

9) Once the florets are cold, remove them from the ice bath to a colander to drain.

10) Once drained, tip them onto the layers of towels to dry further. I use a towel to GENTLY dry the tops, you don't want squished florets.

11) Place dried florets in sheet pans lined with parchment and freeze.

12) Once frozen transfer florets to ziplock bags and return to freezer until needed.
Blanched, dried and frozen for packaging.
I got some giant broccoli too.
Blanched broccoli drying, almost ready for the freezer.

So that is the way I blanched and froze 9 gallon bags of cauliflower and 3 gallon bags of broccoli.  The nice thing about freezing the florets this way is the florets don't freeze together and you can take out as much as you want and return the rest of the bag to the freezer.

But 9 gallons of cauliflower is a lot for Dave and me so I need to get a little creative in ways to fix it so Dave doesn't get too tired of it.  He loves mac and cheese, so I decided to give the "cauli and cheese" a try.  It was a hit! He even ate left-overs for lunch the next day.  

Cauliflower and Cheese

1 med. head cauliflower
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, or use 1/4 c. cream and 1/4 c. almond milk or water
3 oz. cream cheese
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 cup ground pork rinds, or pork panko

Preheat oven to 350°.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, spray a baking dish with cooking spray or butter.

Wash the cauliflower and break into small florets.  Place on prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.  

Meanwhile, make sauce. In a medium saucepan or a microwave safe bowl, mix whipping cream, cream cheese, onion powder, garlic powder, cheddar, mozzarella and 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese.  Heat until melted and completely mixed and smooth.  
Gently mix cauliflower into the cheese sauce and pour into prepared baking dish.  
Mix remaining 1/4 cup parmesan and the ground pork rinds and sprinkle over the top of the cauliflower.  Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden on top and bubbly.  

1 year ago:    Birthday Cupcakes and Learning to Decorate
3 years ago:   Layered Panna Cotta and Dave's New Puppy
5 years ago:   Tazlina Wedding
7 years ago:   Lemon Bars

August 19, 2020   Sunrise 5:52 am  Sunset 9:53 pm  Temp. H 72/L 50°F

Monday, August 17, 2020

Winning the Sweepstakes and Strawberry Mug Cake

I was working away one morning and the phone rang.  I answered it and a man with broken English informed me I just won Publisher's Clearinghouse.  He went on and on and I listened, he gave me his badge number, my claim number, said I won 3.5 million dollars, a car and a year's worth of insurance from State Farm.  Was I excited? he asked.

All I had to do was send $1,399.99, a fee my state required, and then he could send me the check.  I had heard enough and asked, "How can you live with yourself, trying to scam innocent people?"

"Oh, come on." was his reply.

I hung up. 

So I didn't really win 3.5 million dollars but I did have a little fun wasting the time of the scammer and hopefully took at least one person off his call list for the day.  And, I did spend about 3 minutes thinking about how I would spend that money, but I'm more of a realist and put those thoughts away.

And, being the realist that I am, I realize I need more cake in my life so I decided to re-institute Mug Cake Monday.  There are hundreds of keto mug cakes out there and I think I am the one to try them all.  So here is the first one I tried.  This is perfect with a cup of tea and 3 minutes to think about spending 3.5 million dollars!
The second mug cake waiting to be my breakfast on Tuesday!

Strawberry Shortcake Mug Cake
This makes two small mug cakes so I mixed in a bowl, divided and cooked in two mugs.
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. strawberry extract, optional
2 Tbsp. heavy cream or milk of choice
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 Tbsp. Swerve, or sweetener of choice
1/4 cup Almond flour
4 medium strawberries - finely diced, plus one for decoration if desired

In a small bowl, beat egg, vanilla, heavy cream, baking powder and sweetener.  Stir in almond flour until smooth.  Stir in the strawberries.

Divide batter into two mugs, the mug cake doubles in size while it cooks so choose mugs accordingly!

Bake the cakes, one at a time, on high for 60-90 seconds, start with 60 seconds and check then continue cooking, if needed in 15 second increments.

Cool 3-5 minutes.  Top with whipped cream and strawberry, optional.  Enjoy.

1 year ago:     Keto Cheesecake for My Two Year Anniversary
3 years ago:   Tired
5 years ago:   Fish On!
7 years ago:   Rhubarb Sauce

August 17, 2020  Sunrise 5:46 am  Sunset 10:00 pm  Temp. H 75/ L 50°F

Friday, August 14, 2020

Truck Show

Dave has been spending every free minute on Grandpa's Truck.  Our oldest son has come over to help, my brother-in-law comes over, even the neighbor boys will see Dave working and call out and see if he needs help.  Since all the easy jobs are done, I'm pretty worthless, but I do what ever task Dave sets out for me.  Dave has really done the lion's share of the work on this.

A couple weekends ago, there was an antique car show at Chatanika Lodge about 30 miles outside of Fairbanks.  The truck was almost done, still some work to do, but street legal (I drove it to the grocery store once) and Dave wanted to take it to the show.  We trailered the truck (Some pretty steep hills to get there), bought a couple cases of canned food (the entry price, it was an event to support the Fairbanks Food Bank), loaded up the camper and off we went.  

We dropped the truck off at Chatanika Lodge and then went up to the Chatanika camp ground and parked the motorhome for the weekend.  On Saturday morning we went back to the Lodge and attended the car show.  It was a very fun day looking at all the antique cars, talking about what we did, what we still have to do, struggles with the engine, the story of my Great Grandpa buying the truck new in 1950 and then giving it to my Grandpa Tony and now I have it, how Dave surprised me with the truck, and what color we are going to paint it...someday (right now it is a beautiful primer grey).

At the end of the afternoon there are awards for things like, best interior, best antique, best hot rod, and WE won BEST TRUCK! It was very exciting, and Dave got a giant trophy to display in the garage!  

My truck, pictures of my grandpa, and Dave's trophy.
My grandpa Tony, I don't know if this is his truck
he is sitting on.

My Grandpa and Grandma McFadden, this
is how I remember them.
Dave taking a break after working on the truck.

So, we still have some work to do, but I'm driving it when ever I need to go someplace, Dave has driven it to work a few times too. We've driven it to get ice cream twice this week, I really need to practice shifting that old truck. We will have to park it for the winters, so we are driving it now while we can.  I sure do love my old truck.

5 years ago:   Talkeetna Zipline

August 14, 2020  Sunrise 5:36 am  Sunset 10:11 pm  Temp. H 71/ L 46°F

Monday, August 3, 2020

Cherry Danish

We had a friend come visit.  Mr. J and I used to work together. We used to race to get the last danish from the cafeteria in the mornings. So no visit is complete without some cherry danish.

I decided I needed to learn how to make a quick puff pastry for the danish and not depend on the boxed puff pastry.  These days you never know what the grocery store is going to be out of! So I searched my cookbooks and came up with a recipe that works for my purposes; it is pretty quick, it can freeze so you can make a couple pastries at a time, it is delicious.

I've baked these a couple of times, once when I first made them, once when Gman and his people were here, and now for Mr. J and his son.  There are still a few in the freezer for the next visitors or when I need to send a treat to a friend.
Fillings can be what ever you want. Once I filled them with sweetened cream cheese and a little jam, once with chocolate and cream cheese and once with just cherry filling.  It is a good thing I can't eat wheat or I'd be making these every morning.
Quick Puff Pastry
1 pkg. yeast, or 1 scant Tbsp.
4 cups white bread flour, plus extra
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar, or superfine if you have it
water to mix
4 1/2 sticks of butter, chilled (36 Tbsp.)
2 Tbsp. apricot jelly, warmed in the microwave or a small pan on the stove

Dilute the yeast in 1/4 cup warm water.  In a large mixing bowl measure in flour, salt and sugar.  Mix in the yeast and add more water, a little at a time, until the dough comes together is is pliable.  pour the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead until it feels smooth and elastic.  Put the dough in the bowl and let rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, draw a rectangle 8 X 12 on a piece of parchment, turn parchment over (so you don't get ink on the butter) and cut butter into 1 Tbsp. pieces and lay in center of drawn rectangle.  Cover with another piece of parchment and roll out to the shape of the 8X12 rectangle.  Place in refrigerator.  
After dough has rested for 1 hour, remove from refrigerator, scatter some flour on your work surface and roll into a 24 X 12 rectangle.  Remove butter from refrigerator and place on one side of the dough, covering 2/3.  Fold the extra 1/3 side of the dough over the butter, then fold the top third down so the dough is folded like a letter.  Pinch the edges together, wrap with clear film and place in refrigerator for 1 hour.

Scatter some more flour on your work surface, roll dough into a 24 X12 rectangle, fold into thirds and cover with clear film and refrigerate again for 1 hour.  Repeat this three more times, for a total of 5 times rolling and folding.  Then set in refrigerator overnight.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick.  Cut into 4 inch squares.  Fold the edges to create an edge.  

At this point you can freeze them, then once frozen transfer to a ziplock for storage in the freezer until ready for use.  

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Place danish on baking sheet lined with parchment.  Fill danish with desired filling.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and brush with warmed apricot jelly.  Cool and enjoy.
Makes about 30 pastries.

August 3, 2020  Sunrise 4:59 am  Sunset 10:51 pm  Temp. H 60/ L 54°F