Nominated for the Liebster Award

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Happy December!  A few months ago, I was nominated for the Liebster Award by Lyssa from LettuceCoCreative.com.  Thank you Lyssa for the nomination and the super nice review of my blog.  Lyssa sketches and illustrates and her blog is about her illustrations–so very cool.  My favorite post was an ABC drawing project for every letter in the alphabet.  She designs t-shirts, and you can tell she enjoys being creative.

With this nomination, I get to share some random facts about me.

  • I wake up at 6 to help five of my kids practice their instruments before sending them off to school.
  • I have an obsession about canning.  A neighbor gave me some of their old canning jars.  🙂  I found a u-pick farm with beans and picked 1 1/2 bushels of green beans to can this fall, just so I wouldn’t leave the jars empty.
  • I used to travel internationally with a college folk dancer/musician group playing guitar and banjo.
  • I love apple pie!
  • I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  • I love being a mom and wife.
  • My running career peaked at 6th grade when I got a presidential time on the mile run.
  • My favorite book series is the Laura Ingalls Wilder series (Little House on the …)
  • I’m reading the book “Half-Magic” to my little kids in the evening.
  • As a kid, I loved watching the TV show, “Bewitched” on Nick at Night.

 

Here is a link to the rules.  https://theglobalaussie.com/b7/log/liebster-award-201

Here are the questions my nominator asked me.

  1. What is one skill you wish you had?  I wish I was a super organizer, instead, I’m running along, just trying to keep up with life.
  2. Why did you start your blog?  I wanted to share some of the cooking ideas I have learned from my years of converting recipes into dairy-free recipes.  The best thing about starting this blog is that I have connected with other dairy-free bloggers and gotten tons of new, great ideas for cooking without dairy.
  3. How do you deal with writer’s blog/lack of inspiration? I try to blog about what we are actually eating at my house.  However, I often have the “what’s for dinner? blues”–when I have no idea what to cook.  When this happens, I usually call my sister and ask what she is having for dinner.  Talking to her often sparks some ideas for what we can eat at our house.
  4. Have you ever played Baldur’s Gate, if not, why not, what’s your favourite colour?  Since I had to google Baldur’s Gate to learn what it was, I will share my favorite color–yellow.
  5. What is your favourite swear word and why? I avoid swearing to not offend others.  A common phrase of mine is “Oh dear!”
  6. Apple, Windows or other? Windows
  7. What does this formula do in Excel “=CONCATENATE(“Baldur’s Gate “,SUM(1+1),”:SoA was released in “,SUM(20*100))”? #Name?
  8. If you could bring one fantasy creature into existence what would it be and why?  I suppose you are thinking along a different vein of fantasy creatures, but I would pick a magical house-cleaning creature would be AMAZING! Why? I hate cleaning.
  9. What musical artist are you secretly a fan of? My kids take Suzuki violin and piano so we are usually rockin’ to recordings of the Suzuki curriculum.  🙂  Back in the day, I used to love listening to the Cranberries.
  10. What season do you think The Simpsons lost the spark? I’ve only seen a few episodes of The Simpsons, so I have no idea.
  11. Listen to Sufjan Steven’s Impossible Soul in its entirety – what do you think? I think 25 minutes is extremely long to sit still and listen with little kids around me.  It isn’t really my style, and my attention span is about the length of a two-year-old.

 

My nominees for the Liebster Award:

Nailed ‘N Failed

This blog is all about the successes and failures of Pintrest.  Okay, so to be honest, this blog is done by my sister.  I didn’t know she was blogging until my mom told me a few months ago.  I guess that makes me a bad sister.  😦  Reading her blog was lots of fun.  She is so crafty and creative (something barely in my vocabulary, and very much missing in my house decorating).  I loved her post on DIY Copper.  If you are looking on saving a little money without skimping on style, check out her site.

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Happy Starts at Home

Because sugar has so many negative effects on your body, I have been trying to cut back on sugar at my house.  This blog is full of low-sugar (and some non-dairy) recipes, and I am always on the lookout for recipes using less sugar.  Apple pie is the favorite dessert at my house.  These Guilt-free Apple Hand Pies look amazing and are perfect for a treat on the go. IMG_1574.JPG

 

Here are my questions for my nominees.

  1.  What would be your ideal vacation?
  2. What is your favorite country you have visited?
  3. Would you rather go for a walk or a bike ride?
  4. Favorite type of music?
  5. Would you rather watch a T.V. show or read a book?
  6. When do you find time to blog?
  7. Why did you start your blog?
  8. What is your favorite post and why?
  9. If you could be a superhero, what would you be and why?
  10. What is your favorite food?
  11. What is your favorite dessert?

 

Here is a link to the rules for the Liebster Award.

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Tender Juicy Turkey

How do you cook your turkey?

A fun tradition in some kindergarten and first grade classes is writing about Thanksgiving dinner.  The children write how they obtain and cook their turkey dinner.  The answers are varied and usually very humorous.

My daughter wrote that she would find a turkey in someone’s backyard.  (On a drive, we saw turkeys wandering around in a neighborhood yard). Another kid said they would get a turkey from a tree.  However, most kids wrote that their turkeys came from a store.

Even at a young age, kids disagree about the proper way to cook a turkey.  Some take it to a restaurant to be cooked, others cook it in the barbecue.  But the most popular method seems to be cooking the turkey in the oven. Most little kids seem to agree that 5-10 minutes is the proper cooking time for a turkey.  🙂  Although, one kid did say he would cook it in the microwave for 5 hours after it cooked in the oven. Continue reading

Red Pepper Flake Toast

red pepper toast

My oldest is completely obsessed with red pepper flakes.  He puts them on his eggs, his potatoes, his meat, his toast, and pretty much everything else in between.  He even tried it on plain oatmeal once, although I’m not sure if that was a keeper.

This toast is his creation, and he did the photography also.  The bread is buttered (with dairy-free margarine, Nucoa spread), and then sprinkled with red pepper flakes.  Propping up the bread on a rack allows the air to circulate and dry the bread on the bottom also.  A couple of minutes under the broiler, until it is toasted to your liking, and your red pepper flake toast is ready to enjoy.

 

Easy Dill Pickles

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Simple crisp dill pickles–no canning required.

 

Summer whizzed by, and fall has arrived.  I hope your summer was amazing.  Mine was fantastic–full of camping, family reunions, and lots of summer garden produce.  My cucumber plants were especially fruitful.  Making pickles helped keep up with the all the cucumbers.

I adapted my recipe from Old World Garden’s Refrigerator Dill Pickles.  The Refrigerator Dill Pickles are the easiest and tastiest pickles I have made.  I have never had any luck making crispy pickles when they are canned; they are tasty, but a little on the soggy side. These pickles, however, are very crisp.

When making pickles, make sure your cucumbers are fresh, small, and not overripe and turning yellow.   Wash them well.  Cut off the blossom-end of the pickles.  I like slicing the cucumbers lengthwise before putting in my clean jars–that way they are ready for sandwiches.

The recipe makes one pint of pickles.  When I make pickles, I will fill my jars with the cucumbers, and then double or triple the brine recipe based on how many pickle jars I have filled.


Simple Dill Pickles

Makes one pint

 

Pickling cucumbers, washed and blossom-end removed (sliced, quartered or left whole)

2/3 c vinegar

2/3 c water

1 Tbsp pickling salt

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1/4 tsp red peppers

1 tsp dill seed

1/2 tsp peppercorns

 

Pack the cucumber into a clean jar.  Boil vinegar, water, and salt. While the brine is coming to a boil, add the seasoning into the jars with the cucumbers.  Pour the boiling brine into the jars.  Put a canning lid on the jar and store in the refrigerator.

For the best flavor, let the pickles brine for a couple of weeks before eating.

Steak and Mango Pasta Salad

Thin slices of beef, sweet mangoes, and cool cucumber tossed with pasta and homemade Italian dressing . . . Summer is here.

steak and mango pasta salad

This salad was thrown together from some leftovers, but it was so delicious, I had to share it.  Really, my mouth is watering just writing about it.  The mango was an afterthought; it was looking sad and lonely in the fruit bowl, but it turned out to be the star of the show.  The sweetness of the mango pairs very nicely with the zesty dressing.

The Italian dressing is the most amazing recipe.  I copied down the recipe from an online recipe about 6 years ago, and sadly I have no idea who the creator is, but whoever it was, they know how to make Italian Dressing.  I do tweak it a little here and there when I make it.  For instance, I don’t own any celery salt, but I do have celery seed, so a little pinch of that and a bit of extra salt and voila…I don’t even know what I’m missing from the original recipe.  🙂

I cook my steak in a hot cast-iron skillet with a little oil, salt, pepper, and garlic.  I follow a similar technique with a roast, first sear it in a hot cast iron pan, then place the whole pan in an oven and roast (without a lid) on a low heat about 250 degrees Fahrenheit.


Steak and Mango Pasta Salad

Chilled, and thinly sliced grilled steak or tender roast beef

Fresh mango, peeled and cubed

Cucumber, peeled and sliced

Pasta, cooked and cooled

Italian Dressing, recipe follows

 

Mix ingredients (amounts to your liking) and gently mix.  Eat.

 

Italian Dressing

1 cup vinegar of your choice

3/4 cup olive or canola oil

4 Tbsp water

1/2 Tbsp garlic salt

1/2 Tbsp onion powder (or dehydrated, minced onion)

1 tsp sugar

1 Tbsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/2 Tbsp dried parsley

1/4 tsp celery salt (or a pinch of celery seed and a pinch of salt)

1 Tbsp salt

Whisk ingredients together, or put ingredients in a mason jar and shake well (with the lid on)

Store in refrigerator.

 

Toasted Coconut Almond Bars

 

Dark chocolate spread over a crumb crust of toasted coconut, almond, and graham crackers.

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At the end of the day, when your sweetheart asks about your day, how do you answer? For me, I could respond by telling him about the heaps of laundry I washed, the new recipe I tried, time spent volunteering in the kid’s classrooms, or cleaning.  All things considered, I like to tease and tell him that I spent the day reading a book and eating chocolate.

These toasted coconut almond bars are the chocolates you want to eat while you are reading the book.  On second thought, maybe you should eat them at the kitchen table and then wash your hands before reading the book. (Yes, I am a mom 🙂 ).

These Toasted Coconut Almond Bars are rich, but not very sweet.  Toasting the almonds and coconut warms up the almond oils and speeds along the grinding process. Besides toasted coconut is so tasty!


Toasted Coconut Almond Bars

2 rectangular graham crackers, (31 g)

1 cup almonds, (140 g)

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, (46 g)

1 Tbsp coconut oil

1/8 tsp sea salt

 

Preheat oven to 325°F.

In your food processor, crush the graham crackers.  Place crumbs in a bowl and set aside.

Place 1 cup almonds on a baking sheet and put in preheated oven for 12 minutes.  Add coconut and brown for 2 minutes or until coconut turns golden brown. Put almonds, coconut, coconut oil and salt in food processor and process until smooth and on its way to turning into almond butter.  When the almonds are moist enough that they can form a clump, mix in graham cracker crumbs.

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Coconut Almond Mixture

Line a 9×9 casserole dish with parchment paper or Saran wrap.  Place coconut almond mixture into casserole dish.  Press to compact as much as possible and place in freezer to harden for an hour (or overnight).

Melt chocolate chips and coconut oil in microwave-safe bowl for 30 seconds at a time, so not to burn the chocolate.  Stir well between each heating.  Add extra cocoa powder for super dark chocolate.

Holding onto the parchment paper or Saran wrap, lift frozen almond crust out of casserole and onto cutting board.  Spread chocolate on top of the frozen crust.  Allow chocolate to set.  (If needed place back into freezer for a few minutes.)

Using a sharp knife, slice into bars and serve.