Sunday, October 27, 2013

Gluten Free Double Chocolate Cashew Muffins with Salted Caramel

Posted by Paulette

Well, I guess I am in the process of writing a gluten free recipe book. have you noticed there's been a lot of gluten free muffins lately. Not all of the things I try turn out so well. But a good indication of success is the disappearance factor. Add to that the fighting factor, and we've got our self a winner. This muffin had both.
 And I was accused of colluding with Satan in the invention of this muffin. 
I have to admit, it was pretty darn good.

Gluten Free Double Chocolate Cashew Muffins with Salted Caramel

2cups brown rice flour
1 cup tapioca flour
1 cup sugar 
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup cashew bits
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups almond milk

Caramel sauce
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt (for sprinkling over the top)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • prepare muffin tins with papers or nonstick spray
  • In a large bowl, mix together the first 8 ingredients.
  • In a small bowl mix together the vanilla, oil, eggs and milk.
  • Add to the larger bowl and mix until well incorporated.
  • Spoon batter into muffin tin, filling each cup about 3/4 full.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
  • While the muffins are baking, in a medium size pot, melt the butter.
  • Add the brown sugar to it and let simmer on medium high heat, until it comes to soft ball stage,. you can test by dropping small amounts of the candy into ice water. If it forms a ball, and doesn't melt back into the water, it's ready. If you let it get past this point, you will have a harder candy shell.
  • Spoon over the warm muffins, and sprinkle the salt lightly over the top.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Beginning of the End

Posted by Paulette

Somewhere around September 1st, I pull out the sewing machine and it doesn't get put away until after Christmas. It's either on my desk or on the floor somewhere near it. My bedroom is covered in fabrics. Either from my latest and last sewing projects or laundry, or both. Usually both. Scraps of paper litter the desk and the floor with measurements, drawings and patterns. The Halloween season has already started. It was kicked off with a dance last night for our church's youth.

Jonathan and Hyrum took it easy on me this year for their Halloween costumes. Jonny wore his clothes and I just had to do his hair and makeup. Hyrum found a black graduation robe from last year, and I used the bottom of a t-shirt that the gym gave to us, that was never worn, to make a hood, which I then sewed to the black robe. Make-up and a branch painted black, finished his look. 

 Hyrum's makeup is just the white creamy stuff you can get at Halloween, with black eye shadow around his eye sockets and on his lips. Black t-shirt and pants under the robe. The red eyes are happy accident with my photography skills. He doesn't have red contacts.

Jonny's costume is Jack Frost from the Rise of the Guardians.
Kakai pants with a hoodie. His hair was sprayed with white hairspray, and then dusted with tapioca starch. Makeup is my foundation mixed with the white cream makeup. Then light blue eye shadow around the eyes, with indigo liner, then dusted with a glittery pink eye shadow,  rosy cheeks and then the same liner was used around his lips and then a nude lipstick over the top, softened it and made him look cold. More of the glittery pink shadow over his whole face to make it look frosted. 

Then I sprayed his hoodie with a strong hairspray and dusted it with epsom salts to look like snow. Repeated until the "snow" stuck really well.  

 What I didn't do in sewing for these two, was more than made up for with the other kids, including two of my friend's children. I'll get pics of those later.

Back to the sewing machine with me. Oh, and of course some baking needs to be done. There's a bake sale at the Fall Festival at the kid's school tomorrow. I'll have to bake up some gluten free magic. I have a request for the pumpkin surprise muffins.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Gluten Free taco Muffins

Posted by Paulette
Getting 5 kids ready for school, sometimes means, we grab our breakfast and head out the door to the car. Sometimes you want a meal to go. And sometimes you want something that's savory. I think these muffins fit the bill. 

Gluten Free Taco Muffins
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup tapioca starch
1 cup organic corn meal
1 tablespoon baking powder 
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons granulated garlic 
2 eggs
1 cup salsa
1 14 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese, for sprinkling on top

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and prepare muffin tins with paper liners or non stick spray.
  • In a large bowl, mix first 8 ingredients.
  • Add in the eggs, salsa, black beans, and water and mix.
  • Spoon batter into muffin cups filling to 3/4 full.\
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Let's Talk Dirt

Posted by Paulette Burton

A few posts back, I showed my new compost system. It consists of fencing stakes and palettes. Nothing fancy, but it's getting the job done. 
Today, I took some pictures to show how our compost system is put together. It's not a permanent structure. The palettes can be lifted off and carted away, and the stakes can be removed, by watering the dirt and then wiggling them back and forth, before being yanked out.

Pay no attention to the man behind the screen

We tried for 10 years to compost using old trash barrels with holes drilled in them and the bottoms cut off. They stank, and grew flies. We got turned into the vector inspector and had to throw out all of the "compost" and get rid of the trash can method. This new method doesn't stink. It smells sweet. And it doesn't draw flies!
palette slid over the top of fencing stakes

In order to have healthy compost, you need water, air and the stuff you're composting.
We buried a bucket of kitchen scraps a week ago, and then left it. When we returned, I turned over the compost pile. Do you know what I found? Dirt, and egg shells and onion skins. No rotting vegetables! In three months, my compost will be ready to use in the garden. 
You can also fast track it. By adding a combination of Coke, beer, and ammonia, the compost will break down faster. The beneficial microbes that protect your plants from pests and illness will be killed off with this process. So add them back in by watering the compost with yogurt, buttermilk, sour dough starter or kombucha. 

The microbiology was explained to me this way:
You have good microbes and bad microbes. They can't live together.
Good microbes love oxygen. 
Bad microbes don't. 
You need good microbes to turn the garbage into dirt. The reason why our old composting system didn't work, was because it didn't get enough oxygen! It was close to impossible to turn it.   

There's also a layering method that works best. 
You need a layer of dirt, then garbage, or green waste, as it's called. This can include grass clippings, vegetation from the kitchen (never any animal products except egg shells or yogurt to increase good microbe growth.), and brown waste. This is the dried out stuff like leaves, straw, dried grass clippings, or even mulched wood. 

So to recap:
Brown Waste top
Green Waste middle
Dirt bottom

Repeat. When you have a good pile of the stuff, let it sit for a week, watering  every day, and then turn it once a week or two. 
In the layering step, you are introducing the microbes to the party. They get to know each other and kinda figure out where they are, and then the start EATING! And the waste they leave behind is dirt. Wonderful, nutrient rich, dirt.  
If you were to reach you hand into the pile, you would feel heat. They're moving around. If the pile gets cold, give them more oxygen, by turning the pile. 
Now you know how compost happens.  

Instead of having a 3 pile system like mine, you may prefer to garden in your compost. Some people make a compost pile where they intend to garden, moving all around the yard, making new piles as needed. Three months from the time you stop adding to your pile, and let it rest, still watering and turning, you'll have a bed ready to plant in.

There are also systems that involve a rotating barrel. Check out my Yard Stuff Board on Pinterest for lots of great ideas.

Until next time, may your knees be dirty, you have grime under your fingernails, your plants grow healthy, and your compost not stink!

Gluten Free Vegan Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Posted by Paulette

I love Fall. The weather gets cooler, the kids go back to school and i start preparing for the Holidays.
On our trip to Utah, the kids got to pick pumpkins from their Aunt Amy's pumpkin patch. One of those pumpkins was cut open that night and half of it was made into a delicious pumpkin soup. The other half came home in our ice chest.

This week, I put it into the microwave and cooked it until it was nice and soft. Usually I roast pumpkin in the oven, and it gets the additional caramelization which add so much more flavor to a dish. I didn't do it this time because we had early dinner appointment and I just had to get it done!

Today I pulled out the remaining pumpkin puree and made some pumpkin spice muffins.

Gluten Free Vegan Pumpkin Spice Muffins

2 cups brown rice flour
1 cup tapioca starch
1 cup packed brown sugar
4 Tablespoons ground flax seed
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 1/4 cup almond milk

  •  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare muffin tins with paper liners or nonstick spray.
  • In a large bowl, combine the first 10 ingredients and mix.
  • In a small bowl combine the pumpkin puree, coconut oil, maple syrup and almond milk. Whisk.
  • Add to the larger bowl of dry ingredients and mix until well incorporated.
  • Fill muffin tins to 3/4 full.
  • Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Fall in Utah

Posted by Paulette

We're pretty lucky in Arizona. Our kids get a one week break from school in the fall. Maybe this is because we've been so miserable all summer long in the 100+ degree temps and we are given the opportunity to go somewhere else and experience fall. It does get cooler here. It's now in the 80s during the day. Not cold enough for the leaves to turn, but a welcome change, for sure!

This year we decided to go to Utah and visit some of Dave's family. luckily, I also have a few friends who live there too. It was such a whirlwind visit.

Here are some highlights of our vacation.
 The route to Page UT was closed and so we had a beautiful scenic detour through the Grand Canyon. This picture was taken South of Lee's Ferry. There's a foot bridge across the Grand Canyon that's about 1/4 of a mile long. 

Looking down over the side of the bridge, David spotted this Condor.

That's the best picture I could get with my phone. It was so far away that it looked more like a buzzard.

Our first three days were spent at a Hotel in Orem. The kids enjoyed the pool and the computer room. I tool a little time off to paint the girl's faces with my eye shadows. Sometimes it's good to have lots of colors!

 Aunt Amy, David's sister, just younger than him, had a beautiful pumpkin patch, which she invited us over to enjoy harvesting her bounty. 
This wasn't even the largest of the pumpkins. There was one that took  men to move to the porch.

 Christopher turned out to be the best pumpkin picker.

 That night I made pumpkin soup for dinner, and then I roasted the seeds and made a caramel sauce for ice cream topping. I've never cut open a pumpkin this fresh. The seeds popped and attacked me!

 This is the view from my mother in law's kitchen window. each day I watched the mist on the mountain burn off as the sun rose into the sky. On this morning we had some look outs.

 Pretty fat quail keeping watch.

 While the rest of the family stuffs themselves with fallen sunflower seeds from the bird feeders above.

Kanab is the last city in Utah before we cross over into Arizona. We have a tradition of stopping at the 3 Bears Creamery for ice cream before continuing on. The kids all had Superman ice cream in a sugar cone. They had a gluten free bread pudding, which I ordered with vanilla ice cream. I don't even know what Dave got. Mine was soooo good. Sophia was enchanted with all of the wood carved bears. Especially this one, who is catching a fish!

As soon as we crossed over the Grand Canyon the kids started noticing snow and begged for us to pull over so that they could play in it. As soon as we were able, we did so. It's not often that Valley of the Sun residents get to play in snow. They each brought home a snowball which we kept on ice in the cooler.

Our rear ends were sore, and our tempers short by the time we pulled into Mesa. We sure are glad to be home!