Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

The day always seems to go by so fast after having been inundated with Christmas paraphernalia since Ocober 31st.   So after a day of craziness, kids and wrapping paper, now I'm wrapping it up.  I'll be on vacation for a bit.  But I'm going to leave you with something sweet and simple.  Maybe you'll think, "Hey, why didn't you post this sooner?? I could have used that at dinner!"  But I assure you, with as easy as it is, you'll make it more often.  Dip strawberries and melon, top ice creams, or just serve with your favorite warm fall custard, this recipe is sure to please.  

If you already have this one, don't worry, I have a whole book of more to come, keep checking back!

Sweet Whipped Cream

1 pint heavy whipping cream
dash of cream of tartar
12-15 drops liquid stevia (any flavor you like!)

If not using flavored stevia:   1 tBsp vanilla extract (or your favorite flavoring)

You'll want to use the electric mixer for this one.  Pour the whipping cream into a bowl with the cream of tartar.   Whip until starting to get foamy but not peaking.  Pour in stevia, whip a few seconds, pour in vanilla (or flavoring) and whip steadily until stiff peaks form (but do not break!)

There IS a bit of an art form to this.   There is a fine line between thick, rich, sweet whipped cream - and vanilla flavored sweet butter... and there's NOTHING wrong with sweet butter!  It tastes great on GF french toast, GF coconut pancakes and a bunch of other things... however, if you're going for whipped cream... keep an eye on it while you're whipping.

(Oh yes!  That IS a gluten free, added-sugar free pumpkin pie in that picture!)
Just try to keep the kids fingers out of this one!

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Oven Roasted

I assured you today's recipe would not only be edible but simple and if you've already been there, done that, well, maybe this can be some inspiration to add this to your holiday table this year?  It's quick, warm, comfort food that is whole and packed with nutrients.

First of all, how many of you reach for a canned pumpkin every time you make a pumpkin custard or pie?  What if I told you it is easy and delicious to actually make your own pumpkin puree, using just your oven, a knife and a food processor.  Most people remember grandma's "grainy and difficult" from scratch pies.  This is simple.  It's easy to be intimidated but I assure you, one step at a time and you'll have it.  If pumpkin isn't your thing, I'll show you a wonderful golden acorn squash substitute.  

Heat it up!  These cold winter months bring the chill and the snow (if you're up north) and sometimes, even in the south, it's nice to have the warmth and decadent smell of roasting something in the oven.  First, we're almost out of fall, but if you look hard enough, you'll be able to find a sugar pumpkin or a golden acorn squash (regular squash work well too.)   If you're going to make a big pan, even one or two sugar pumpkins will be more than enough.   Both of these can be eaten right out of the oven, or they can be pureed to make a wonderful filling or custard.  

First start with your oven at about 400 degrees F.   I always place foil on my pan, and prick the gourd of choice and rub it with a little butter.  You can skip that step if you like, I always prick them just in case though, so they don't get bubbles that can splatter.   Place in the oven for approximately 25 minutes.  Roast whole, until soft enough to run a fork through.  Some pumpkins are a little larger and some acorn squash can be quite small.   I would say in my experience, about a pound requires 20 minutes or so.   When your pumpkin or squash is tender, pull it out of the oven.  Cube it, and remove the seeds and skin.   Here's where you have a choice.  You can follow the recipe below, or you can toss it in a blender or food processor and make it smooth.  If at this point you're opting for the food processor, you can use your pumpkin just like canned.  Add it to anything you want!  It's ready to go.  

If you would like a warm snack or a warm comforting afternoon lunch, follow the recipe. 

Roasted Spiced Acorn Squash

1 medium roasted acorn squash (or pumpkin) cubed
2 oz butter 
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 oz walnuts - crushed
1 oz. sugar free maple syrup
1/8 tsp dried clove powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
OPTIONAL:  1 oz. dried cherries or cranberries (WARNING! These have added sugar unless from a natural store!)

If your oven is still on... GREAT!  We're going to put it to good use.   Place squash in oven proof dish.  Melt the butter with the spices and pour over your acorn squash.  Pour over the syrup, sprinkle the nuts, and cherries if you chose to have them.   Place back in the oven for about 5-8 minutes.  Just enough to get it all nice and hot and melty and blend those flavors.   Pull it out... voila!  Instant meal!  

If your oven wasn't on, or you made the pumpkin/squash earlier and refrigerated or froze it, you can still use the oven if you choose.  You could also use a toaster oven, or if you really were starving, the microwave (for about 2 minutes.)   

This is a complete meal on its own or you can serve it as a side dish for a beautiful holiday meal.  

Note:  In my photo below, I mixed them and it was amazing, but it works fine with just one or the other.  Mine was piping hot and by the time the pictures were taken, the butter was melted into a puddle.  Beautiful and delicious!! 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


I was going to create a post at 12:12 today, but I was at a doctor's appointment and sadly could not get to my blog at the moment.  However, I did want to make a point to write at least a little something about a somewhat insignificant date - unless you were born, married or graduated Yale today.   For those of us in my age group or older, it is the last time we will ever see a repetitive date.   My son is three years old and he has a small chance to see 01-01-01.  However, he would be almost 92 years old by then.   That is somewhat of a heavy statement and sentiment.  Luckily for us, we have the now and I'm working on something for Friday that will hopefully be helpful in the fall/winter seasons.  It is another simple recipe like last weeks, but I'm hoping everyone can find use for it.  And it's edible.

Happy 12-12-12!  Enjoy your evening and see you Friday!

Saturday, December 8, 2012


I didn't disappear!  Simply had a long day yesterday, but I'm here and I have a great recipe for you today!  You will love it!  I wish I had more/ better pictures, so this coming week, that is what I'm up to:  making sure I have improved pictures of this amazing recipe!

Yesterday happened to be very busy, and I was out running some errands.  I took my 3 year old with me and we drove around town with the top down on my convertible.  Sometimes he likes it and sometimes he doesn't.  He wears a hat in the car and will wave to people, it's pretty darned adorable.  He thinks he's such a big guy helping with the groceries or the errands, and it's nice to spend some one on one time after months of struggling with school and things.  We're cruising along yesterday and "Winter Wonderland" came on the radio.  We were singing along and grooving a bit, when the irony hit me.... Here I am, driving in beautiful 72 degree weather, warm, bright sunshine, top down, wind blowing, tee-shirt and sunhat during the Christmas season, and singing along/ imagining the "winter wonderland."   It was so funny, I just started to laugh!  Christmas for us former northerners is FILLED with memory of snow, cold weather, dreary days, dark afternoons, and Christmas lights kissed with icicles.    It's a time of family and friends, heavy coats, warm boots and mittens, sitting by the fire and drinking hot cocoa.   So, "Winter Wonderland" brought back a lot of those memories and I was sucked into the past for a few moments.  Reality, however, has a different tune... it somewhat sounds like the Beach Boys "Kokomo"...
*(not my video, follow the link to visit that person's channel)

and many days, it is really like that!  I've had warm sunny days with a drink in one hand and tanning lotion in another, while sitting in the warm sun.   I've been to the beach in the middle of December when we had one of the coldest winters in decades and it was 30 degrees, and in the middle of August when it's pushing 100.

As we continued to drive, Mannheim Steamroller came on
*(not my video, follow the link to visit that person's channel)

and inspired my 3 year old into "magics."  I started imitating him and asking what this was because it was so cool... When, he interrupted me and said, "No mom.  I do the magics.  You do the car driving."   Oh.  Got it.  I'm not allowed to do the magics.   That being said, with the warm weather and the mixed messages from Florida's nature of warmth and green everywhere, it can be more difficult to get that old "Christmas spirit."  I see lights and trees and somehow, they seem out of place.  I bought a fake tree one year and sprayed it with "pine scent" from an air freshener can.   That didn't really do it.   My children have rarely seen the cold or snow around this time of year.  The few times they have, it's because we were visiting relatives up north.

So, if you have any ideas on how to bring Christmas spirit to "Kokomo,"  let me know!  I'd love to hear your ideas on how to make a warm weather Christmas more festive!

In the mean time, here's your recipe, which, by the way, is NOT (it is but it's not) edible!!!!

Wait, wait, wait.  A recipe on a food blog that is not edible?  What am I doing?  Well......

If you have a girl or guy in your life that has dry skin, or loves lotions, you are going to LOVE this recipe.  I developed it years ago, but talking to my mom yesterday she gave me a great idea to spice up my old recipe.
If you have very curly hair, a little bit of this worked into the curls away from the scalp makes them shiny and bouncy!  I know, I used it on my son's kinky curls for years and he never woke up in the morning with tangles!

Island Lotion

REAL cacao butter (link provided for reference, not advertisement) - this is NOT cocoa butter (ok it is... but sometimes people confuse it with a premade lotion or marketed product... you're looking for a RAW version, with this spelling you'll get much better results!)

real, cold pressed, minimal processed coconut oil (refined if you do NOT want it to smell like coconut,
UNrefined if you like the smell of coconut) - The company I'm linking here, I really like a lot, however they do not pay me to advertise for them, so again, this is a reference, not an advertisement, but I do think their company has great products.

Food grade flavoring of your choice.   (I have NEVER used this site, however, think I would love to try it.  My local store has many of these in stock however, so this is reference for you!)  Any flavor or scent you enjoy - if you like chocolate cheesecake, get that flavor.  Find something that goes with chocolate or coconut, however, it doesn't have to be that way, many times the raw ingredients, their scent fades and you are left with the flavoring scent.

Here's the idea:  You choose your favorite scent for your 'lotion'.  You can buy a mold (for soap) if you want it to look pretty, or you can use an ice cube tray, miniature cups, or a mini muffin tin.

Take 2 parts cacao butter and one part coconut oil and SLOWLY, VERY SLOWLY, and VERY LOW TEMP, start to melt them together in a pan.  Keep the temp VERY low.  I cannot stress that enough.  And DO NOT use the microwave.  I understand it's quick, however the microwave will kill the natural properties of the oils.

Once the mixture is completely liquid, pour in a few drops of flavoring - or as much as you want or like!  If you love a strong smelling lotion, add more, if you are not so keen on smelling like a bakery, or spice rack, then use less (or none at all).   The product without the flavoring, has a sweet, light coconut chocolate scent that disappears shortly after you apply to your skin.   After you add the flavoring, stir a few more times to incorporate the scent and then pour evenly into your molds of choice.

Allow to cool over night (if you're in warm sunny Florida, you might want to cool these in the refrigerator, otherwise, room temp is fine.

When they are solid, press down on one side and they should POP release out of the mold (or depending on your mold you may just be able to invert the mold and they will fall out.)  If you are having trouble DO NOT IMMERSE THE BOTTOM IN WARM WATER!  They will melt faster than you can get them out of the mold.  Simply hold the mold in the palm of your hand for a few seconds and then try again to press on the top side and see if it will pop.

I suggest use right out of a warm shower.   Roll in your hands a few minutes then rub ALL over, a little bit goes a long way.  I like this best on freshly shaven skin, or on very curly hair.  If you used an adorable mold, perhaps these can go into gifts or stockings this year (provided the fireplace isn't on....)

Do remember...
1.  They will melt once the room gets warm.  I store mine in the refrigerator to avoid warm days or accidents.
2.  They do not taste as good as they smell, however ARE SAFE TO EAT!  **
3.  They are WONDERFUL for people with eczema (so long as they are not allergic to the ingredients)
4.  Can be used by people who are sensitive to chemicals, additives, and coloring.
5.  Can be used on curly hair to tame the cold weather frizzies.
6.  Make great gifts

**Yes, they will smell great.  Yes, you may be tempted to think, "Ok, just one bite."  Go ahead.  It tastes pretty gross.  HOWEVER, it has no added chemicals, or unpronouncable additives.  It is made out of ALL FOOD GRADE MATERIALS.  If your two year old gets into this and takes a bite, you will not have to call poison control and ask what to do next.  It IS made out of natural fats which people use in foods, and too much of this can cause stomach upset, just like eating too much of any food.

So, please, try to refrain from eating it, but definitely enjoy this without worry on your skin, your baby's skin and for the whole family during this cold weather season with lots of dry skin!

Wrap in wax paper or a pretty tin to give as gifts or store.  Be particularly aware of the melting point of this lotion, it can quickly ruin pockets or purses if left there in warm temperatures.

The best part of all this?  It's gluten free AND sugar free and you didn't have to write the company to make sure they didn't add gluten to the lotion your skin is absorbing.   I made this mistake once and am very careful now.  I used a lotion that had wheat added for a thickener (all natural and organic!) but gave me very itchy skin.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and today's dose of irony -- Snow songs and sunny days and a food blog recipe that you can't eat!

(pictures coming soon!)

Until then, enjoy a sight of the season!  Yes this is MY humble abode (not that you can see a whole lot of it!)