Friday, November 8, 2013

Gluten free, Dairy free Pumpkin Bread Muffins

     Now that fall has arrived, I find myself burning my favorite candles all day: pumpkin spice, cinnamon, and Christmas cookie.  I made a new batch of body scrub using pumpkin pie spice and vanilla, and I made a room spray of cinnamon and clove essential oils.  Now with all the scents of fall, I am craving the tastes as well!
     Now since I have to be gluten free, I had a hard time finding recipes that featured ingredients that I had on hand.  As I've said before, when the mood strikes me, I have to bake right then!  So, if some ingredients aren't available, I substitute.  Many times such substitutions aren't good, and I consider the attempt a fail.  However, other times I am very happy with the results, and this was such a time!

      I had originally shared a post about making the muffins with a cream cheese glaze, but I didn't want to use as much sugar as it seemed to take to make it taste good, so I omitted it, and stayed with the basic muffin.  If you don't mind the sugar, I'm sure it would be fabulous with cream cheese frosting!
     As I said in that post, I combined recipes from +Martha Stewart , +Jules Shepard , +Bob's Red Mill ,and one of my Grandmother's old church cookbooks.  I'm sure that any one of these would be great standing alone, but I didn't have all the ingredients I needed, and/or the recipe wasn't gluten free, so here is what my resulting recipe is:

  • 6 Tbl. Earth Balance butter
  • 1 1/2 Tbl. molassas
  • 1 1/4 cups Sugar in the Raw
  • 2   eggs
  • 2/3 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup of pumpkin puree, plus 2 Tbl. of pear or apple butter
  • 1 cup Bob's Red Mill Gluten free flour blend
  • 3/4 tsp Xanthan gum
  • 1/2 cup Almond flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking solda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup dried blueberries
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries

  1. Preheatr oven to 350* and oil a muffin pan, or 4 mini loaf pans
  2. Cream the butter, molasses, and sugar
  3. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well
  4. Add orange juice, pumpkin puree, and pear or apple butter, mix well
  5. Sift all dry ingredients together in another bowl
  6. Slowly add the pumpkin mixture into the dry ingredients bowl, stir well
  7. Add dried fruits
  8. Spoon into prepared pans
  9. Bake 4 mini loaves 45 min. or until done in middle, and muffins 25-30 min. or until done in the middle.
  10. Cool 10-15 minutes and turn out
     These were very moist and made the house smell as warm and inviting as my fall candles!  The best part was enjoying a muffin and a cup of Russian Tea.  I love the fall!!!
Many Blessings,


Monday, September 16, 2013

DIY pumpkin and green pea dog treats

     Well, here we are in my favorite time of year...fall!  I love the cooler weather, the crispness in the air, the excitement that it's almost time to wear jeans and boots, and the prospects of pumpkins in all shapes, sizes and tastes!  I always say that the tastes of pumpkin, ginger, cinnamon and apples equals the tastes of fall.
     I have been experimenting with some new gluten free pumpkin baked goodies for me, so I thought it was time to make a new treat for my four-legged baby, Marley.  She loves the other treats that I have made for her is one of her favorites, as this one featuring blueberries 
     Now we've traded in the blueberries for pumpkin, and I threw in some green peas too.
Marley's Pumpkin Treats

  • 1/2 cup plain canned pumpkin (not pie filling it has sugar)
  • 2 Tbl bacon grease
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup cooked green peas (I used frozen, and don't add anything to them)
  • about 1-2 Tbl brown rice flour (I added some without measuring just to get to the consistency that resembled a cookie dough)
  • drop on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake in 350* oven for about 10 minutes


Just like the other dog treats I make, I keep them in the freezer, and pull a couple to reach room temperature on the day that I will give them to her.  These aren't crunchy like the peanut butter bacon ones I mentioned above, so I thought they may be less desirable, not so!  Marley loves them.  Do you make treats for your dogs, I'd love to hear about it!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Mini chocolate peanut butter cups

  Have you ever started eating Reese's Peanut Butter cups, and had a very hard time stopping?  Me neither...yeah right!!!  They are my all time favorite candy.  I look forward to fall when I can buy them in autumn colored foil and they become a "decoration" displayed in a pumpkin jar.  (Never mind that they are a 2- 3 day decoration).
  After I found out I was gluten intolerant, I went to a search to see if I could still eat them.  Some sites say yes, some sites say no.  With the way I feel after ingesting gluten, I am still afraid to try, because I KNOW that I can't eat just one.  So, I broke out my Alicia Silverstone book, The Kind Diet.  I used to make her peanut butter cups a lot when I could have graham crackers.  I tried making them with gluten free graham crackers a few times, but it just wasn't the same.  So, I tried what I have done a lot for the past year, and instead of trying to duplicate an old recipe, only to find that it "doesn't taste as good without the gluten ingredient", I tried to make something new. I wasn't happy with the results a few times, but now I can say that I am happy!

You can't go wrong with chocolate and peanut butter!

To make 12 cups in a mini muffin tin:
  1. 2 1/2 Tbl. peanut butter (I used Natural chunky)
  2. 1 1/2 Tbl. refined coconut oil
  3. 1 Tbl. brown rice syrup
Stir together and fill the mini muffin cups.

In a separate bowl, combine:
  1. 1 1/2 Tbl. melted coconut oil
  2. 1 1/2 Tbl. melted butter (I used Kerrygold)
  3. 1 Tbl. mini chocolate chops (I love Enjoy Life vegan chips)
  4. 1 Tbl. cocoa powder ( I used dark this time, but love the regular as well)
  5. 1 Tbl Maple syrup

Stir this mixture, and pour over the top of the peanut butter mixture that is already in your tin.  Then top with chopped peanuts, or since I was out this time, I used chopped almonds.  Refrigerate for an hour, or if you can't wait, pop in the freezer for 20 minutes!   
They are so much prettier than my photo shows.  I hope to improve my photography one day!

Enjoy...candy made with all natural ingredients!

I hope you will give them a try, and let me know how they work out.  I will surely miss the red and green Reese's when it comes to Christmas, now what will I use as a "decoration" in my snowman jar?
Many Blessings,

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Gingerbread pancakes...gluten free

  If there is one thing that I truly miss now that I can't have gluten, it's desserts, and biscuits.  O.K. that's two things.  I have been missing comfort desserts, especially those I associate with my favorite time of year...fall. I wasn't satisfied with any of the gluten free gingerbread  or gingerbread cookie recipes that I found. ( I still haven't' found a pumpkin bread recipe that can rival the awesome one I used to make with white and wheat flours).  But low and behold...I found a recipe for gluten free, vegan gingerbread pancakes, and they taste like a decadent dessert!
  I found this recipe from Babycakes.  I bought the cookbook Babycakes Covers the Classics and can't wait to try many of the other recipes!  This one wasn't hard to make, it just took a while to make all the small pancakes.  But once I was done, I ate a few, shared a few, and still had some to stick in the freezer for later.
  As I've said before, sometimes I make substitutions if I don't have all that  recipe calls for.  It turned out great, but I will let you know what I changed from the original.
The batter is somewhat thicker than "traditional" batter.

Flip once they start to bubble.

  • 2 cups all-purpose gluten free baking powder
  • 2 teas. baking soda
  • 2 teas. baking powder
  • 1 Tbls. ground ginger
  • 1 teas. ground cinnamon
  • 1 teas salt
  • 1/2 xanthan gum
  • 1/4 teas. ground cardamom( I had to use my mortar and pestle to grind some)
  • 1/4 teas. ground cloves
  • 2/3 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/3 agave
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 2/3 cup rice milk (I didn't have any so I used coconut milk)
  • 2 Tbls. vanilla extract
  1. Whisk flour, soda, powder, ginger, cinnamon, salt, xanthan gum, cardamom, and cloves together in a bowl.
  2. Add applesauce, coconut oil, agave, molasses, milk, and vanilla and stir until smooth.
  3. Heat a pan over medium heat, spray with nonstick spray and pour about 1/4 of batter at a time into skillet.  (I fit 3 at a time onto my skillet)>
  4. Cook until the pancake bubbles, and browns then flip.  Cook until it feels firm.

  These are so delicious...thanks Babycakes!  Do you have a favorite gluten free dessert recipe?  I'd love to hear about it.  As always, if you've found a good one for biscuits, please let me know!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Gluten free microwaveable chocolate cake with fresh blueberries

   My son got the idea from watching +SORTED Food  to make a microwavable, individual cake in a cup.  So, I decided that I needed one as well, gluten free of course.  So I made mine with almond flour by experimenting, and I think I will only try one small change the next time that I make it.  Here's how I made the cake ,version 1...  It was so easy, and a nice little treat!

Microwave chocolate cake...oh yeah!

  • 1 Tbl. of Kerrygold butter
  • I Tbl. Sugar in the Raw
  • 1 Tbl dark cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbl natural applesauce
  • 1 teas. vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 Tbl. almond flour
  • pinch of sea salt
  • fresh blueberries
  1. Mix all ingredients(except blueberries) in a microwavable mug, or I used an 8 oz bowl.
  2. Microwave for 1.5-2 minutes or until top is set, but still jiggly.
  3. I topped mine with fresh blueberries that I had on hand, whipped cream would be good too.
  4. That's it!  Next time I think I will add 1 teaspoon more of the butter, and 1 teaspoon more of the applesauce to try to make it a tad more moist.

                                     Give it a try whenever you want a chocolate treat, and want it fast!
Add a "bulletproof coffee" with your cake, and it makes a filling breakfast, or afternoon "tide-me-over" until dinner!

Enjoy a blessed day!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Homemade eucalytpus, peppermint and ginger decongestant chest rub

The finished product...Eucalyptus chest rub!

  So,  I've decided to try a different decongestant rub for our family this year.  I usually make one with essential oils, coconut oil, and beeswax.  This time I have fresh eucalyptus leaves, so I wanted to try James Wong's recipe that I saw him make on The Cooking Channel's "Grow your own drugs" show.
Fresh eucalyptus leaves.

Add fresh ginger root & cracked black pepper.

   *We bought a small, digital kitchen scale for me to use for gluten free baking, and I needed it for James' UK measurements. --------

  • 100 grams of eucalyptus leaves.
  • 10 grams of freshly chopped ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper (his recipe says ground black pepper, but I used what I had)
  • 150 grams of coconut oil, and 50 grams of white petroleum jelly (he used 200 grams of white petroleum jelly, but I did a combo of the coconut oil, so I'm sure it's a bit different than his).

  • Combine the ingredients in a glass bowl that will fit over a pot to make your double boiler.  Let it simmer for 1 hour covered.  Make sure that you check to make sure water doesn't evaporate.  I set my timer for 20 minute intervals to check for this.
  • Remove from the heat and let cool while covered.
  • Strain and add 20 drops of peppermint essential oil.

I used a glass bowl with a lid atop my medium sized pot.

Strain, and pour the liquid into your glass container.

  You can use the rub once a day according to James.  I know that when fall allergies kick in, we will be grateful to have this around to ease some of the congestion in our chests and noses.  I especially like the cooling effect that it brings at night when you're trying to open up to be able to sleep.  I tried it a couple of times, and I love the way it feels.  I am not looking forward to a new wave of allergies, nor winter's bouts of colds, but I will be glad that I will have something to help sooth the symptoms.   
  I am also making an infused oil of sweet almond, olive oil, eucalyptus leaves, and rosemary leaves.  I will blog on that one after it gets 5 weeks to infuse in the sun.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Homemade citrus, gelatin gummies

  I've never been a big gummy candy fan, the consistency is just kind of weird to me.  However, I love Sour Patch Kids, especially the yellow, lemon ones.  I remembered in the days when my kids were little, and we used to make jello jigglers.  We used to always make green, lime dinosaurs and train engines using Jello and cookie cutters.  I wondered if I could follow the same principle, and try to make some lemony, sour gummies.  The end result was good, but not as sour as I would have liked.  I think next time I will go with less honey, and more lemon!

I had some Pampered Chef cutters, and I found my husband's aspic cutters.

  It was really easy to make.  I simply took 3 packs of the gelatin, added 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1/4 cup lime juice, 1/4 cup honey, and about 4 drops of orange extract.  Then you whisk and pour into a glass dish to set in the refrigerator, I put mine in the freezer because I was impatient.

The aspic cutters were smaller, so I chose a simple shape.

 Cut the desired shapes, and it's ready to eat.  Like I said, I am not a big fan of gummy things, but I knew that consuming real gelatin would be good for my nails and my hair.  I loved the citrus flavor, but I will try it next time with maybe a tablespoon more of the lemon, and one less of the honey.  I know that Sour Patch Kids have a sour coating, that I won't be able to replicate, but this was a fun experiment!  Happy snacking, and enjoy a blessed day!


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Home canning-Chow Chow

I love canning with an old, traditional recipe.
  You can't beat a pot of beans, hot Southern chow-chow, and cornbread!  This is the first time that I made enough chow-chow to can.  I usually just make a quick refrigerator version.  Since I am loving canning this summer, I got out the old church cookbooks of all of mine and my husband's grandmothers, and picked one that sounded good.
  You will need the following ingredients to make 6 pints (this is half of the recipe):
Beautiful colors!
  • a medium sized head of cabbage
  • 4 red bell peppers
  • 4 green bell peppers
  • 3 white onions
  • 2 hot peppers
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1 Tbl. mustard seed
  • 1 Tnsp. celery seed
  • 1 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 3 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar

  We used the food processor to grind all the vegetables...we have it so much easier than our grandparents, who had to grind/grate by hand!  You sprinkle the salt over the vegetables, and  refrigerate overnight.
  The next day, drain and squeeze out all the water.

 Pot for sterilizing jars, canner, and Le Creuset for cooking vegetables.

  Mix all ingredients, except the turmeric, and bring to a boil.  Cook for about 15 minutes until the vegetables look transparent.  Add the turmeric and stir well.  Pack the mixture into sterilized jars and seal.  Process in canner for 10 minutes.

  Let me know if you try this recipe from 1962.  I'm sure that the recipe is probably the same for centuries.  I know my grandma's had books older than this, and I wish I had the handwritten papers that I saw them use when  I was little.  Do you have a favorite recipe?  I would love to hear about it, be sure to leave a comment.  Have a blessed day,

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Bacon and peanut butter dog treats DIY

Well, if you saw any of my other posts about Marley, you'll see that she is my baby, and I spoil her.  I have had dogs in my life for as long as I can remember, my dog Dixie when I was about four years old is the earliest memory I have.  We had a wonderful lab named Lonesome, who found my family when I was in middle school.  Although divorced, each of my parents had at least 2 dogs at any given time in their homes, and they still do.  They always believe that their dogs are part of the family, as all dogs should be!
  It was many, many years later before we got a family dog for my kids.  Marley joined us in 2008.  She quickly became my baby!  So, as I make cookies for my boys, so I make cookies for my girl.  These are so easy, and she loves them!  Enjoy making treats for your dog.
  Here is the link for the first recipe I posted for treats.
Marley doesn't do this when I'm baking, but the smell of peanut butter and bacon lets her know this will be for her.

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup bacon grease (I had saved it in a jar from breakfast a few weeks ago)
  • 1/4 creamy peanut butter
  • handful of fresh blueberries
  • 1 egg

She thought she should get the remaining dough; even dogs like cookie batter!

  All I did was mix all the ingredients, flour my pastry mat, and mash the dough down with my hands.  Then I used my dog bone cutter and made the cookies.  I baked for 17 minutes on 350*.  After they cooled on a wire rack, Marley was able to taste one...she loved it!
Enjoy the blessings of owning a dog, 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Homemade antibiotic skin cream

Creamy antibiotic (excuse the pic of Thai Basil in background :)
  I love having this home remedy available, as we usually will have a need for it.  Have you ever had a cut, skin irritation, or infection that you wanted to coat with something soothing?  Well, this is my favorite way to make such a soothing cream.  I am not a doctor, nor a professional in the healing field, so use your own judgement when treating your condition.
  For minor cuts, skin irritation from eczema or dermatitis, or minor infection (redness, soreness) on skin, this cream works nicely.  Please make sure you clean the skin before applying this, as it will heal quickly! Some examples of when my family has used this:  to prevent infections, and treat the sting of dog or cat scratches, to treat and protect from cuticle tears or hangnails, irritation on hands from contact irritants, eczema, and bug bites.  *Some herbal books say Chamomile can cause contact dermatitis to those who may be allergic to this kind of weed use sparingly until you find out, we have never had a problem with it! 

  •   Start by making an Olive oil tincture with Chamomile flowers, and Burdock Root.  I used 2 Tbls of each in 1/3 cup Extra virgin olive oil.  I set the jar in a sunny window for 5 weeks.  Then strain...
After 5 weeks in the sun.

Strain the mixture and discard the herbs (make sure to mash the herbs and get every drop)

  •  Now you need to mix 1/4 cup of the oil mixture with 1/2 cup coconut oil, and 1/4 beeswax.  Melt over a double boiler (I use a glass bowl over my pot, just don't let the bowl sit in the water).
  • After you remove from the heat, add 15 drops of Lavender, 5 drops of Clary Sage, and 4 drops of Vitamin E oil

    Stir until all melted.

  • Put the mixture into you refrigerator for about 2 hours, then remove and mix with your mixer.
  • Whip until you get a nice, buttery consistency, then store in glass jars.  During the summer months it is important to keep the mixture cool so that it doesn't melt or separate.  If you find that a counter top isn't cool enough, keep in the fridge.  I have mine on my bathroom counter, and it is doing fine, but some of my family like to keep it in the fridge.

  I hope you like this easy, all-natural way to treat minor skin irritations.  Let me know if you give it a try!  Many blessings,  Joanna

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Chicken stock/bone broth made with all leftovers

  I just wanted to share my simple way of getting the most out of a whole chicken.  Once we had eaten most of the roasted whole chicken, I froze what was left of the carcass.  For a couple of weeks, I bagged and froze the ends of all of our celery, carrots, onions and garlic.
  I added all of the veggie scraps along with the chicken carcass to my crock pot.  I added enough water to cover it, then cooked it on low for 12 hours.  Then I strained it and put it in leftover glass jars.  Now we have fresh chicken stock/bone broth for whenever we need it.  It made a little over 3 quarts.  I used what didn't fit in the jars to make some rice, then froze the rest to pull out and use as needed.
  So easy, and a good way to make stock basically for free!  Have you ever tried making other types of stock?  I'd love to hear about it.  Wishing you a blessed day, Joanna.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Sun-infused, all-natural, facial skin toner

  During the summer months, my skin tends to get a little oily.  In my 20's it was always oily, in my 30's it was combination, now it's mostly just dry.  When I feel my skin needs a little extra cleansing in the hot months, I make a nice toner to follow my cleanser with.  This is simple and easy to do, very inexpensive, and no harsh chemicals will be going on your face.
  All you need to make 4 oz of toner is:

  • a 4 oz glass bottle
  • about 1.5 Tbl dried lavender
  • about 1.5 Tbl dried rose flowers
  • 3 oz of distilled witch hazel
  • 1 oz of distilled water
  • a sunny window or deck

Gather your dried flowers  
   Put the dried herbs into your glass jar and add the witch hazel.  Shake well to combine and let it infuse by the sunshine.  You only need to give it 6-8 hours and it's good to go.  Then simply strain the witch hazel infusion, add the ounce of distilled water, and you are ready to apply with a cotton ball.  How easy is this, and it feels so nice on your skin.
  Lavender is so soothing for your skin and has antibacterial properties.  Rose is a nice skin softener, and witch hazel is an astringent.  Go ahead, pamper your skin and tone it at the same time.  Let me know if you give it a try!
Place in a sunny window and let the sun infuse it for you!

Here is the link for my homemade scrub
  Wishing you a blessed day,

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Fresh summertime cocktails using garden herbs and local fruits

  Cocktails made with summer's fresh fruit are just meant to be enjoyed in the backyard.  For the last couple of months, some of our weekends have been spent experimenting with different drinks and enjoying them on our deck.  Spending time out back means that I  have also had to experiment with different mosquito repellents!
Strawberry Martini 
Strawberries and champagne
  Once I found out that my favorite vodka made me sick because it's made from grains and not potatoes, I thought my days of martinis were over.  With gluten intolerance, a lot of vodkas were off limits, or some of the potato varieties didn't taste good. Then we found Tito's! Tito's vodka is USA made in Texas and it's gluten free. Tito's was the first gluten free vodka that I found to taste really good in a martini.  
  We made strawberry martinis using Tito's and fresh pureed strawberries.  Awesome and refreshing and tastes like summer.  Another time we used the strawberry puree, basil infused simple syrup, and Blanco tequila and made margaritas, simple and tastes like a fresh dessert.  *We later purchased margarita glasses :)

Make a simple syrup using garden fresh basil, and top with more basil
  When strawberries were finished locally, we made peach martinis in the same fashion as the strawberry ones using Tito's and S.C peaches.  We topped them with mint from the garden.  Super good!  We then went to the local watermelon and came up with a nice rum drink.
Muddled watermelon, rum, club soda and basil

  When the weekend rolls around, it's nice to be able to relax with your family.  A few hours spend outside grilling dinner and enjoying cocktails is a fun way to re-connect after the stresses of the week.  By the way, we discovered that adding basil plants, citronella plants, and lemon balm plants to the deck helps keep the pests away.  My favorite blend for homemade repellent is a cup of water mixed with 10 drops lavender, 10 drops lemon and 5 drops peppermint.  (I always experiment with different blends and scents, but so far, I think this one works best).

  Do you have any favorite summer time drinks?  I would love to hear about them.
Enjoy a blessed day,