Wednesday, June 30, 2010

the 6.5 mile smoothie... I'm tired

6.5 mile smoothie ingredients
I am tired.... beat... and my feet are really sore. Recovering from the 6.5 mile hike is only the half of it. My stomach is recovering from a quick, on the way to our destination nacho plate. Yes, I said Nacho Plate. It was 7 pounds of beans, cheese, chips, salsa,  chilies and a whole lot of other do-dads. I just skimmed the surface of that monster, and now I am paying for it, several hours later. I should have opted for the soup and salad.

Note to self: When on vacation... stick to your safe diet, no matter how big the temptation.  And do not expect belly to feel happy while hiking for 3 hours in the hot sun, up and down cliffs after eating something like the 7 lb. nacho plate.

I will stop whining. The walk today was gorgeous....stunning. Beautiful to stretch the body's limits. Thankful for the fresh air around me. Thanking my body as it made it's way up and down the rough cliffs of Devil's lake. Amazing flora. Gentle gurgling creeks, wildflowers in full bloom. Simply serene.
the colors on this flower are delicious
Now for the recovery.
  1. Hot Shower
  2. Make smoothie because there is nothing else at this point that your tummy could handle.
I ran in the kitchen door took a hot shower with my favorite sandalwood soap. Showers have to smell good too! I quickly slipped into comfy clothes and my pink slippers.  Then my husband offered to help me whip up a smoothie. He was suffering from post-burger-hike syndrome like me. Glad we were on the same page for supper.

6.5 mile smoothie for two
  1. pint of raspberries, fresh or frozen
  2. 2 giant TBS raw almond butter
  3. 1/8 pineapple
  4. 1 nectarine
  5. 1 apricot
  6. 2 giant TBS Artisana Coconut Butter....mmmmm soo dreamy
  7. 1.5 cups water
  8. lots of greens...1/2 pound. Use local and organic if possible. This lucky smoothie was privy to Harmony Valley Salad Mix.... they are one of the pioneers in CSA.
Blend up, add some ice for drama. Throw in a straw. Sit back with your feet up and watch a good movie.♥♥♥

p.s.  We just came back from a week long R&R in sunny Florida. Inspired by all of the key lime pies I tested, I will be whipping up a key lime, raspberry layered pound cake for a family gathering on Friday.... I can't wait!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Cake Caddy and Cocktails...

= a good night with beautiful ladies!

Have you ever brought a cake over to a party and something along the way wrecked your frosting? Have you ever wanted to refrigerate you cake and keep your frosting free of any other odors looming in your fridge? Have you ever wanted to just wanted to make one trip to the car, instead of two? My life is so much simpler since my sister Molly gifted me with this awesome cake caddy. Gone are the days of mushed frosting, balancing the cake on my lap, and driving slow around corners. If you don't have one, rush out and get one. Now when leaving for the dinner party I can swing my purse over my shoulder and grab the cake in the other hand. One trip to the car, put the caddy on the floor and off I go. I am always amazed when a simple piece of kitchen technology can simplify my life.
how to squeeze a lime.......
thank you Jackie!

I brought one of my Danish Layer cakes over to my friends house last night, the cake being my contribution to the blissful evening. Of course my cake was housed appropriately in it's caddy. It was all set for a girls night in. Lovely. Sublime. Delicious. Two beautiful sisters and their beautiful mother were my company for the evening. Always a treat to be invited over to their home. Simply put, we made margaritas....ate a wonderful supper and finished off with cake. We spent the entire evening in their kitchen, sitting at their large table, secret sharing, goal making, swapping book titles, discussing education and food, sipping our margaritas, laughing, nibbling on chips and cheese and eating some more. It was an amazing evening spent with 3 beautiful women. Thank you Jamie, Jackie and Sally....

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Flax seeds... Really, do I have to?

Okay I have heard for YEARS that flax seeds and their oil content are sooo wonderful for us...blah blah blah. I have never found a flax seed or flax oil that I have liked. I have swallowed the oil, holding my breath and making faces just to get it down. I have tried ground flax meal, I have tried to mask the flavor of the oil in salad dressings and still I am not sold. I have tried unsuccessfully to try and chew these little buggers.. and it is nearly impossible. Maybe chocolate dipped? 

However I am now turning over a new leaf. I am embracing this tiny little seed and all of it's wonderful glory! Golden Raw Flax Seeds.... my new friend. Who would have ever thought something so righteous as the flax seed would befriend someone as sassy as me. But it just happened, just like that.  There I was in the grocery baking aisle,  and this cute bearded gentleman was beaming down from the 4th shelf. It was Bob's Mill Organic Golden Flax Seeds. I think I bought them just because they said Golden.. and I fancy myself a sucker for glitzy things. So into the cart it went and on to my counter for it's next move.

Would you believe it...for 2 months straight I have been throwing into my morning smoothie 2 TBS of these lovely little seeds...grinding them up to a pulp in my Vitamix and enjoying their health benefits. Seriously... I have noticed some effect...(I think). Being someone who needs to include as much anti-inflammatory foodage as one muster into their diet... these little golden gems were a new found friend. My breakfast is truly a smoothie, every day.....I love it.. There are so many ways to pack goodness into a morning drink. I will list my current favorite below. Enjoy.. and please, do know that I understand your dislike of these little friends... just try them and let them work their golden magic.

mmmmm golden flax seeds

Morning Breakfast Smoothie
  • 1/8 of a pineapple
  • 1/2 cup frozen organic cherries
  • 1 peach, apricot, or other fleshy fruit
  • 2 TBS Bob's Organic Golden Flax Seeds
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup water, add more if smoothie is too thick
  • 1 TBS Artisana Raw Coconut Butter...this stuff is FAB
  • 1-2 TBS raw almond butter.... depending on how I am feeling
  • 1 small head of romain lettuce or other leafy green
Throw this all into your Vitamix and let her fly... Sometimes I throw in an ice cube or 2. Depending if I want it cold or not. Enjoy, drink up and be on your merry way for a fantastic day with your new best friend.. Flax Seeds.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The 13 Year Old's Cake - Danish Layer Cream Cake

How to please your daughter on her 13th birthday!

Start with Wisconsin fresh market strawberries...

End up with a cake that is truly to die for....

  1. Make her the cake she loves.... strawberry cream layer cake
  2. Clean house like a mad woman... hide things in closets.
  3. Arrange and rearrange back porch furniture and plants as if the Dalai Lama was arriving.
  4. Purchase crazy colored nail polish at Walgreens for party favors.
  5. Can't forget the balloons and special napkins. What would a birthday be without balloons.
  6. Cool stripey candles to boot...
  7. Chauffeur around 6 teen girls for giggles and supper to local pizzeria.
  8. Let them run wild until a bit too late.
  9. Put in girl movie... Romeo and Juliet with Leonardo DiCaprio (who else)
  10. Rouse yourself out of bed at 1:00 a.m. to stop them from cooking pizza rolls at such an ungodly hour....
  11. Wish her happy birthday and get some shut-eye.
  12. Note to self: Remember ear plugs for the next slumber party... you will get to sleep faster.
Danish Layer Strawberry Cream Cake

I grew up in a town where we were blessed with really good Danish bakeries. One of these bakeries made the best Danish Layer Cream Cake ever. It was what you always wanted your birthday cake to taste like... So delicious, a spongy cake with this amazing filling and cream... sometimes raspberry, sometimes lemon custard and always whipped cream. I think I have finally found the cake that pleases my senses enough that I would make it every week if I had the time. Unfortunately I am on a gluten free diet,,, the no fun diet... so I end up taking a bite to make sure it is palatable and then...I go to bed dreaming about eating it, breathing it and eating it again. Thank goodness for hungry and appreciative mouths.

The cake:
What makes this cake special are the egg whites...oohh how they make this cake a big giant sponge, able to soak up the flavor of the ripe June strawberries. The cake recipe comes from a 1957 cookbook put out by the Journal Times in Racine Wisconsin.
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbs cold water
  • 1 and 1/2 tbs cornstarch - place into measuring cup and fill the balance of cup with cake flour (heaping)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 6 tbs unsalted butter melted
Beat egg yolks well, add sugar, cold water and vanilla. Add melted butter. Sift dry ingredients and fold into egg mixture. Add lemon juice. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites (you want nice soft peaks when whipping your whites.) Pour batter into 2, 9" cake pans, buttered & floured, and lined with parchment paper. Split your batter 1/3 in one and 2/3 in another. Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. The cake with the The cake with the 1/3 batter will be done in 15 minutes.... the pan with 2/3 batter will take a bit longer....around 20-25 depending on oven. You will start to smell cake and it should be pulling away from side of pan and a bit golden /brown. Let cool for 10 minutes, tip upside down and let cool on wire rack. Split the larger cake with long serrated knife.

The Filling:

  • 2 quarts of strawberries, washed and dried 
  • sugar to taste
  • 1 pint organic whipping cream
  • vanilla
  • 4 bamboo skewers - 10 inches
Take about 1/3 of  berries, top them and place into food processor. Turn on until you have a puree. Pour puree of berries into a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, add about 1/4 cup sugar and let simmer for quite some time, 30 minutes with continous stirring. You want the  puree to reduce down to a thick, sweet berry sauce... you do not want this runny as this will be the layer for you cake. (not quite as thick as jam consistency) Taste for sweetness add more sugar if needed or desired. Cool. Take another 1/3 of berries, top them and place in the food processor, pulse until just diced up into small pieces. Place in bowl. Whip the cream with added sugar and 1 tsp. of vanilla. Add sugar sparingly as good organic whip cream is so satisfyingly sweet you often do not need to add sugar. Get layers ready. Lay first layer down and cover cake with the puree. Spoon it on and watch it soak into your lovely cake. Next add a layer of your strawberry pieces. Carefully add whip cream and then another cake layer. Repeat process with the rest of strawberries and cream. Place final cake layer on top. Place bamboo skewers into cake so it will not slide and cover the rest of cake top with whipping cream. This part is essential!!! You can easily lose a layer.. Use remaining strawberries to top the cake. Cover and put into fridge to set. You could frost the sides... as this would cover up any of the filling squeezing out of the cake, however, part of the appeal of this cake is the juiciness of it. It cries... chin dripping berries...taste me! Let the cake sit in fridge for a few hours or serve immediately. 

Here she is the beautiful birthday girl! Thinking about what she is going to wish for!

    Friday, June 11, 2010

    The Vanilla that Broke the Bank!

    I caved. My family says I am a pushover.., and at a recent trip to Penzys I bought the big guy. An entire 16 oz. of their fabulous Mexican vanilla. I just saw it there on the shelf, lonley, large...and a much better deal than it's 4 oz. brother. Yes, I broke the bank and even hid the receipt from my husband. I could just hear him....."You paid $25.00 for a bottle of vanilla!"  However, in my defense of spending $$$, I believe I have officially graduated to the level of Household Baker Extraordinaire and I deserve to have such an ingredient at my finger tips. Right?

    I am so glad I took the plunge. I have kissed goodbye to the days of vanilla-less recipes because of a lack of ingredient foresight. Gone are the days of getting half way through a recipe and sending my dear husband out for a tiny bottle of vanilla so I could finish the recipe. I can now say that I actually plan ahead and go over my ingredient list with a fine toothed comb so as not to end up let down due to a shortage of important ingredients!

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010

    Just Because Coconut Cake

    Just because, I stopped at our local library book sale.... some 6 months ago mind you.
    Just because, I found some old Gourmet, Cooks Illustrated and Bon Appetit Magazines for .25 cents...major score.
    Just because, I took them home and read them for a week straight, shelved them.... never making a single recipe from them until last night.
    Just because, I decided to make the utterly gorgeous Coconut Rum Cake from September 2007 Issue of Gourmet.
    Just because, I left out the rum. (teacher can't have alcohol on her breath can she?)
    Just because, I did not read reviews of recipe on until AFTER I made the cake.
    Just because I have no self confidence..... I read the 50+ reviews of the cake.... split down the middle... you were either going to love it or hate it..... oh no....I am my worst critic. I sided with the cake haters on this one and worried all morning long that I was bringing in a flop of a cake to work.....nobody would like it.
    Just because, I drove all the way to work with one hand on the wheel, the other on the cake cover... so it wouldn't slip and the frosting wouldn't mess.
    Just because, my friends all ate it, kids wanted a piece and others asked for seconds......
    Just because I want to... I recommed that you read reviews BEFORE you bake..... lots of tips... I went solo on this one- tips would have helped.
    Just in case you are interested, you can find the recipe here: Coconut Rum Cake

    Friday, June 4, 2010

    Hamburgers... Summer has arrived!

    Thank god for beef... after a long week with kindergartners, I needed this. Of course being the gluten free gal I am... I took my beef solo... sans the wheat bun! I even gave up the ketchup, so very unlike me. However,I did get to snap all of these lovely photos with this now permanent date stamp... grrr.. technology! Can you tell I am not a fan of the date stamp!

    This has been a very busy week, and today's dinner was the perfect ending and wonderful welcome to the beautiful season of Summer. I feel blessed to have such a wonderful family gather and celebrate with great food and drink... the very essence of Summer. We enjoyed chips, salty and crunchy, steamed broccoli, fresh heirloom watermelon, butter toasted buns and these amazing burgers! I tried a new pasture raised beef that I had purchased at market last week. The meat was wonderful, Black Angus, very flavorful - it left a fullness in your mouth and was not too chewy or too crumbly. We topped off the burgers with white onions sauteed in BUTTER and olive oil, salt, fresh pepper, and of course... Worcestershire Sauce. God... that sauce is good... we also threw it into the burgers, along with fresh green onion, black pepper and a wonderful spice mix from Penzeys

    I was full of JOY while I made this meal, I knew that my heart ♥ was full of l.o.v.e. for my family and that keeping in the present, being mindful while I cooked would really pay off! It did, sanity and peace overcame us tonight at the dinner table, hungry mouths feasted, thirsty bodies drank! The dance of summer has begun! How blessed we are to partake in the warmth of the sun and the simpleness of just being alive!  


    As long as we are breathing, there is more right with us than wrong us! Jon Kabat-Zinn

    Tomorrow I get to partake in a day-long mindfulness meditation. At first I was a bit put out by the idea,,, a whole day of meditating! How boring! Now... all I can think about is the beauty of it all, giving up a Saturday to be with myself and just be me! 

    Eat a burger... drink a glass of wine! Send your love into the food as you cook! You will be rewarded!

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010

    Homemade Granola! Delicious, if I do say so myself!

    Wonderfully delicious granola! I have been trying and trying to get the recipe just the way I like it and I finally did. The smell of it baking is wonderful and warming to the senses. Warm vanilla and cinnamon aromas will fill your house while you wait.
         Granola is simple and good for you. It makes a fantastic snack and a wonderful breakfast cereal as well. Unfortunately it also costs a lot if you purchase organic granola at the store. Save some cashola $$$ by purchasing your oats in bulk as well as your flax seeds, coconut and slivered almonds. You can invest in some simple oils which you will end up using around the kitchen or just save them for your weekly granola making. Ghee, coconut oil and grapeseed oil are kitchen staples around our kitchen. These oils retain flavor and nutrition when heated.
         You can add all sorts of tasty extras into the batch, make it just how your taste buds love it. I use coconut, raw golden flax seeds, thick organic oats, and slivered almonds as my base. After several attempts at cooking this at 350 degrees, I finally have a good batch of time and temperature at 300 degrees for 50 minutes. We enjoy our granola plain, or with mil/yogurt and fresh seasonal fruit!

    Homemade Granola
    • 4 cups organic thick oats
    • 1/2 cup golden raw flax seeds
    • 1 cup coconut, shredded and sweetened or raw and grated
    • 1 cup slivered almonds (play almonds in colander first to sift out smaller pieces that may burn)
    • 1/4 cup ghee
    • 1/4 cup grape seed oil
    • 1/4 cup coconut oil
    • 3 TBS Brown Sugar (optional) this is sweet enough just with the syrup, adds more flavor than sweetness.
    • 3/4 cup maple syrup
    • 2 tsp. vanilla
    • 1 tsp good sea salt (we use pink and LOVE it)
    • 1 tsp good Vietnamese cinnamon ( I like the flavor as it is deeper and darker than most on the market)
    1.  Oven on to 300, line large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
    2. Toss first four ingredients in large bowl.
    3. Melt over stove the oils and pour over mixture.
    4. Stir in Maple syrup, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and salt.
    5. Stir well and place ingredients over the sheet and slip into the oven. 
    6. Stir every 15 minutes and pull out at 50 minutes.
    7. Let cool completely and then store in Tupperware or other seal-able container.