Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Pumpkin Spice Coffee

Yesterday, I discovered a half cup of homemade pumpkin puree in my freezer from last year. 

Pumpkins happen to be one of my favorite things about fall.

We had some large unexpected expenses this summer, so I am trying to stick to a pretty strict budget. While we do not buy many processed foods, my dairy-free coffee creamer is an exception and I opted not to buy it for a while to save some money.

When I had to cut sugar completely out of my diet a few years ago, I only added almond milk to my coffee. I could do that again.

Seeing the pumpkin in the freezer, I realized I would not have to! I discovered a recipe at for Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte Syrup last fall. I liked it in my coffee and my eldest son loved it in hot cocoa. 

This morning, I whipped up a double batch using my homemade pumpkin puree and freshly grated nutmeg. I plan to freeze half of the syrup in tablespoon portions (using an ice tray), as the syrup should be used within 2 weeks and I doubt I will make it through the double batch in that time.

Coffee + almond milk + 1 scant tablespoon of pumpkin spice latte syrup = Yum!

I must confess, I always got excited when Starbucks began offering their seasonal pumpkin spice lattes in the fall. However, it is my understanding that when Starbucks began using real pumpkin in their syrup, they also added condensed skim milk. 

Elle's recipe allows me to treat myself to a pumpkin spice latte without dairy and at a fraction of the cost. Sweet! If you missed the link above, the recipe may be found HERE.

Wishing you all a fantastic day!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Daring Cooks' October 2015 Challenge: Have a Rice Day

For the month of October, Sawsan from Chef in Disguise challenged us to prepare a rice based main meal that represents our own culture, or one from a cuisine that we would like to explore.

I chose to share a Dutch Meatball Soup recipe. This soup reminds my husband of his grandmother. It reminds me of the winter we visited his Dutch relatives. It was one of the coldest winters they had in years, so the pond behind his Aunt and Uncle's home had frozen over. I had such a wonderful time watching everyone ice skating on the pond. (Seven months pregnant at the time, I did not dare join the fun.) That evening, his aunt made balletjessoep (meatball soup) for dinner. 

Rice has been a favorite staple in our household for as long as I can remember. On our first date, my husband brought everything he needed to my apartment to cook a chicken stir-fry dinner, including chop sticks. I can still remember him laughing as he taught me to pick the rice up with the chopsticks. 

In 2013, I began having some health issues that turned out to be food related. The long list of foods I need to avoid and/or limit discouraged me from The Daring Kitchen Challenges. Now, I am ready to face the challenge of adapting the recipes so they better fit my dietary needs. Rice is one of the foods I need to limit, so a small bowl of meatball soup was a real treat for me. 

This recipe was adapted from the book, Dutch Touches. According to this cookbook, the original recipe was submitted by Marian Schoolland from Grand Rapids, Michigan. I adapted the recipe to make it gluten-free and egg-free. The rice does a wonderful job of thickening this soup and I love the touch of nutmeg.

First, I chopped 2 stalks of celery. Then, I peeled the carrots. 
The Genius Nicer Dicer my mom gave me for Christmas made chopping the carrots and onion a breeze. 
I just sliced them and diced them.
I set the veggies aside.
Next, I brought the water to a boil, added the rice 
and set the timer for 20 minutes.
While the rice was cooking, I measured the bread crumbs, 
nutmeg and salt in a small bowl and mixed them well.
I mixed the ground beef and bread crumb mixture together 
in a medium-sized bowl.
Then rolled the beef mixture into meatballs.  
I like small meatballs, so these were 1/2- to 3/4-inch in diameter. 
I placed the flour on a dinner plate, lightly dusted the meatballs with flour, and then set them aside on a clean plate.
When the timer for the rice went off, I added the vegetables and the meatballs to the pot and let the soup boil for 20 minutes.

Normally, I use this 20 minutes to clean my kitchen. However, I purchased 2.5 pounds of ground beef (as it was $1.00 less a pound.) So, I mixed a second batch of meatballs.
I put them on a baking tray lined with wax paper and froze them and then transferred them to a Ziplock freezer bag. 
They are all ready for the next time I make my hubby meatball soup. All I have to do is take them out the night before.
By the time the meatballs went in the freezer, our soup was done.
We sprinkled the top with freshly ground pepper (after this photo was taken) and enjoyed!

 My youngest is not a big fan of this soup, but he ate some anyway. I haven't told my eldest son I made it. He's at college and would be disappointed that he missed out!

Dutch Meatball Soup
Serves 8-10

Mandatory Items:
Large Pot
Cutting board
Veggie Peeler
Wooden spoon (or large plastic spoon to stir soup)
Small bowl (to mix bread crumbs and spices)
Medium bowl (to mix ground beef)
Measuring cups
2 Plates (1 for the flour and 1 to put the floured meatballs onto)

10 cups water
1/2 cup rice
1 to 1 1/4 lbs. ground beef
1/4 cup gluten-free bread crumbs* 
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup gluten-free flour**
3 large carrots
2 stalks celery
fresh ground pepper (optional)

1. Peel carrots and chop into small pieces.
2. Finely chop celery, carrots and onion. Set aside.
3. Bring 10 cups of water to a boil.
4. Add 1/2 cup rice to boiling water and boil for 20 minutes.
5. While rice is cooking, combine bread crumbs, nutmeg, and salt in a small bowl. Mix well.
6. Place beef in a medium-sized bowl and mix in the bread crumb mixture.
7. Pinch off small amount of the meatball mixture and roll into meatballs. (I prefer mine small, roughly 1/2- to 3/4-inch diameter.)
8. Pour flour onto a dinner plate or into a pie dish.
9. Lightly dust meatballs with flour and set on a clean dinner plate. (I pour about 1/3 of the meatballs onto the flour at a time, then pick each one up and quickly roll it in my hands. This spreads the flour into a light coating.)
10. When the timer goes off for the rice, add the vegetables and the meatballs. Stir and cook for 20 minutes. 
11. Serve and enjoy! We like ours with freshly ground pepper sprinkled on top.

* I used Ener G brand bread crumbs because they are also dairy-free, egg-free and soy free. I found them in the natural foods gluten-free section at Fred Meyer. (Next time, I need to make my own bread crumbs that are also yeast and corn starch free.)

** I used Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour, which I also purchased in the Fred Meyer natural foods gluten-free section.

Sawson shared two family rice based dishes with us for this challenge. Click here to see the recipes and the challenge at The Daring Kitchen. Again, I would like to thank Sawsan at Chef in Disguise for this fun challenge!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Do You Have a Favorite Breakfast Sausage Recipe?

Over the past year, I have introduced some processed foods back into my diet. (Things like gluten-free chicken breakfast sausage.) It is time to cut them out again and go back to more home cooked foods. So, I decided to try out a new breakfast sausage recipe yesterday.

I found this Breakfast Chicken Sausage Patties recipe at Elly Says Opa! through this pin on Pinterest. I think the recipe intended leafy dried herbs to be used. I only had ground herbs on hand, so my sausages turned out a bit too herb-y. However, they are still pretty tasty. (There were originally 16. A few may have been devoured before the photo above was taken!) 

I discovered another recipe I plan to try next week. If you have a favorite sausage recipe I would love to know the name of the recipe and which website you found it on or which book you found it in!

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Bacon and Pumpkin Soup

I love fall.  I love crisp autumn mornings and the beautiful colors of fall leaves.  Most of all, I love pumpkin.  It is one of my favorite foods.

There is just nothing like a warm bowl of soup on a cold wet day.  I have been collecting pumpkin soup recipes on Pinterest.  Last week, I tried the Creamy Paleo Bacon Pumpkin Soup recipe Cassy shared on Fed & Fit.  (Click here to check out the recipe and her post.)

This was a great opportunity to use some of the fresh sage growing in my garden and some of the homemade chicken broth from my freezer.  Pork is one of the foods I may only eat on occasion, so this was a fun treat.  The fact that it is dairy-free and grain-free (therefore, gluten-free) meant I did not have to make any adjustments to the recipe.

I liked the soup.  My husband and 17-year-old son thought it was amazing.  My picky eater did not care for this one.

If you try it, I would love to know what you think!  Do you have a favorite pumpkin soup recipe?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

3 Home Made Fruit Roll Ups and Fruit Leather Recipes

This week we picked 21 pounds of blueberries and bought a pint of fresh honey, 6 pounds of pears, a basket of fresh figs and a flat of freshly picked peaches.  My 14-year-old remembered the peach leather we made last summer and asked if I could make it again.  So, I went on a Pinterest search and found 3 recipes to try. 

Blueberry Fruit Roll Ups

Blueberry Fruit Roll Ups using this recipe from the Sugar Free Mom.  Of course, we used a tablespoon of honey as our sweetener, as we purchased some fresh at the berry farm!

These were a big hit.  (I admit, I only rolled 3 of them.  My tape did NOT want to stick to the parchment paper, and the additional paper felt a bit wasteful to me.  So, I cut the rest into strips and sealed them in a Ziploc bag.

Peach and Pear Fruit Leather

Next, we made a batch of this Peach and Pear Fruit Leather with this recipe from WikiHow to do Anything

I put both trays in the oven and set it at the lowest temperature - 170 degrees Fahrenheit - and set a timer for 7 hours.  The blueberry finished early and the peach/pear took longer.

I also made the mistake of scooping two small spoonfuls of the peach/pear batch for my youngest and I to sample before it baked.  Umm... YUM!!!  That resulted with the two of us whipping up a second batch of this flavor and popping it into the refrigerator to bake the next day.  It was a very wise decision, as the first tray was devoured in a day.

Triple Fruit Leather

The third recipe was the only one we cooked beforehand.  We made Triple Fruit Leather using this recipe for Triple Fruit Roll Ups at Food Well Said.  We had strawberries in the refrigerator - leftover from some I bought for a fruit salad I took to a dinner gathering on Saturday night.  The blueberries and honey, we picked/purchased on Saturday.  And the rhubarb came from our backyard.  (It was our first time harvesting any!)  This was my husband's favorite recipe.  I like the tart flavor from the rhubarb.

Unlike fruit roll ups sold in the stores, these have
no processed sugar, no partially hydrogenated oils - or any other ingredients you might read and wonder what they are.  They only take a couple of minutes to prepare. Pop them in the oven for roughly 7 hours and they are done.  They are THAT easy.  Using locally fresh ingredients (with the exception of the strawberries and lemons) also kept our cost down, so they were pretty inexpensive for the amount we made.

Do you have a favorite naturally sweetened fruit leather or fruit roll up recipe?  I would love to know what it is!

Thanks for stopping by


Friday, April 25, 2014

Easy Potato Sausage & Spinach Hash

Easy Potato Sausage & Spinach Hash
Eliminating eggs, oats, dairy and gluten from my diet made breakfast quite the challenge for me.

I spent the winter drinking fruit smoothies (made from frozen fruit.) I playfully made fun of myself as I shivered through breakfast which generally left my hubby chuckling at me.

For Christmas, the love of my life bought me an amazing (to me) cookbook: The Healthy Gluten-Free Life: 200 Delicious Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, Egg-Free Recipes by Tammy Credicott.  It was the first cookbook I had seen eliminating 4 of the many foods I had to cut from my diet. (There is also a website I should check out again one of these days called The Healthy GF Life.)

This recipe is not from that book, but it is one of several potato hash recipes I have made that were inspired by 2 breakfast recipes within the book.

I usually made this dish with fresh potatoes (baked in a 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes, cooled, peeled and cubed.)  However, a few months ago while my mom was in the hospital (about 45 minutes away), I found myself lacking time and energy.  (I did find it interesting the hospital did not have gluten-free, dairy-free options available in the cafeteria aside from the salad bar - and I cannot eat lettuce, but that is another story...)  So, I decided to try frozen hash browns - even though they contained dextrose. (If you are like me, and wonder WHY sugar is added to frozen hash browns, apparently it assists with the browning process.) To be honest, I prefer to bake potatoes in advance to skip the dextrose and other ingredients in the frozen variety - but occasionally, it is nice to save some time.

This was quick to make, and I could easily make a big batch so there were leftovers for the next day.  Bonus!

My picky eater dislikes potatoes, for the most part, so he is not a fan of this dish.  Some days, I save a bit of the sausage and spinach and make him an egg scramble instead. Other days, he gets a small serving of the potato hash, but is able to reheat a frozen home-made waffle to enjoy with it.

The recipe below may easily be cut in half. This is great served with a fruit smoothie!

Easy Potato Sausage & Spinach Hash


1 bag hash browns (shredded or diced)
1 lb. gluten-free breakfast sausage (I use chicken or turkey GF breakfast sausage)
3-4 cups fresh spinach, washed and chopped
2-3 Tablespoons cooking oil (I use light olive oil, avocado oil or safflower oil)
Rubbed Sage (optional)


1. Add oil to large pot and heat over medium-high heat.
2. Add potatoes and cook according to package directions (or until browned to your liking if using diced baked potatoes, turning after 5-7 minutes)
3. Meanwhile, cook breakfast sausage in another pan, stirring to crumble the meat, until fully cooked and browned to your liking.
4. Add cooked sausage and chopped spinach to browned potatoes.
5. Reduce heat to medium
6. Stir to mix and cook until spinach has wilted.
7. Remove from heat.
8. Sprinkle with a touch of rubbed sage for additional flavor, if desired, and serve.

1. Saute diced onions until transparent, but not browned, before adding potatoes. 
2. Substitute hash browns with diced baked potatoes (peeled or unpeeled.) Heat over medium to medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes (until brown on the bottom), turn with a spatula and cook another 3-7 minutes (until browned to your liking.)
3. Substitute sausage with diced ham or turkey-ham (preferably uncured.) 
4. Add shredded cheese (I use Daiya cheese shreds in either cheddar or pepper jack, as they are free of dairy, gluten and soy.) 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Apple Peanut Butter Quinoa Flakes

Last year after learning I should stick to a gluten-free diet, I frequently turned to oatmeal for breakfast. During that time, I discovered The Oatmeal Artist (I believe through Pinterest.)

In October or November, I was told I also needed to cut oats from my diet. Although I could not eat them, I prepared a couple of baked oatmeal dishes to add to our traditional Christmas morning brunch. One variety I fixed was Apple Nut Butter Baked Oatmeal.  It sounded SO good.

In January, I tried making quinoa for breakfast - in hopes it would satisfy my oatmeal cravings.  However, the texture was not a big hit in my household. Then, I discovered quinoa flakes.  (My husband picked some up for me at Whole Foods Market.  I also found them at Fred Meyer, but they cost a couple dollars more.)

Quinoa flakes cook a lot faster than oats, so I am making some adjustments as I try adapting some of my favorite oatmeal recipes.

Variations: For those with nut allergies, I am sure this would be great with Sunbutter (I cannot eat sunflower seed products either...)  You can also omit the cinnamon or cut it to 1/4 teaspoon.  (I am supposed to increase my intake of cinnamon, oregano, and garlic, so I actually used about 3/4 teaspoon in mine.) This would also be great with a mashed ripe banana instead of the maple syrup (but, you guessed it, no bananas for me.)

Apple Peanut Butter Quinoa Flakes
1 cup almond milk (milk or milk substitute)
1/3 cup quinoa flakes
1 small apple, diced (I peeled mine, but you do not have to)
1 Tablespoon Peanut Butter
1/2 teaspoon maple syrup (honey, or favorite sweetener)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Place diced apples and almond milk in a small or medium saucepan.
2. Bring almond milk to boil.
3. Add quinoa flakes and stir or whisk into almond milk.
4. Continue to boil for 90 seconds.
5. Remove from heat.
6. Stir in cinnamon, peanut butter and maple syrup.
7. Enjoy!