October 26, 2011

How do maintain your community? Or, alternatively, Christmas is coming fast!

A sense of community is part of what makes us human; an extremely important part.  With the Internet, texting, etc. one would think we all have well developed communities.  But really, how many of the people on your Facebook page are more than acquaintances?

Maybe I'm just old-fashioned but I miss getting more than bills and junk mail in my mailbox.  That's why I still participate in the potentially antiquated tradition of mailing, yes really, (snail)mailing Christmas cards.  As part of that tradition, I like to send cards with pictures of our family.  For a few years, I made the cards myself.  Last year I got an opportunity (read freebie) to use Shutterfly (online).  They've given me the same opportunity this year.  The cards we got last year were wonderful and not just because Dylan's the cutest kid ever.

My goal this year is to order cards before Thanksgiving so I can address and mail them that weekend.  I haven't decided on exactly which one or ones we'll be using.  Part of my problem is they have too many I like!  Last year I made a custom desk calendar on Shutterfly and everyone at work loves it.  They almost make it too easy.

What ones would you choose?  Guess what, it's not exactly a rhetorical question.  Shutterfly wants you to have the opportunity (read freebie) to try their cards out this year too.  And, they don't have to be Christmas cards.  Do it for some other event if Christmas cards don't float your boat.  They gave me three codes for 25 free cards each.  Comment about your community or your Christmas traditions.  The winners will be chosen randomly.   

In addition if you are a blogger: You can register at for  a chance at 25 free cards this holiday season?

October 22, 2011

Flax Seed "Bran" Bread

This is pretty much this lady's recipe.  I don't think it's like focaccia as she describes it but it's not too bad.  We'll see about in the morning.

Flax Seed "Bran" Bread

2 c freshly ground flax seed (again, you're using that dedicated coffee grinder, right?)
1 T baking powder
1 tsp salt
5 eggs, whipped
2 T molasses
1/2 c water
1/3 c melted coconut oil or butter

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Grease a 9x13 pan and a bread pan.

3. Mix dry ingredients together in large bowl.

4. Mix wet ingredients well in a separate bowl.  

5. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients.  Stir well and let set 2-3 minutes to thicken.

6. Divide between the bread pan and the 9x13 pan.  Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
7. Enjoy!  Food is meant to be enjoyed!

October 21, 2011

"Curry" Chicken Soup

Apparently, not everyone looks in the fridge in the fall/winter and thinks...I'm going to make a soup out of whatever is in there.  But, seriously, throwing together a soup doesn't have to be that hard!  With that in mind, the following recipe is a guideline.  Many of my recipes are guidelines.  I just don't take the time to measure things :)  

Remember, it's not worth it to take yourself or soup so seriously!

"Curry" Chicken Soup

2-4 T melted coconut oil
1 small head garlic
1/2-1 tsp cumin
1/2-1 tsp coriander seed ground to a powder in your dedicated spice grinder, i.e. coffee grinder dedicated to that type of stuff
1/2-1 tsp ginger
1/2-1 tsp chili pepper flakes
1/2-1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2-1 tsp salt, or to taste
 half of a leftover roasted chicken, diced
1 c diced cooked squash
1 c diced carrot
1/2 c white Zinfandel or other white wine you have on hand for cooking with
1 can full-fat coconut milk; and 1-2 cans of chicken broth or water, rinsing all the yummy stuff out of the coconut can
1 c cooked squash, not necessary to be diced
1/2-1 tsp turmeric

1. Melt coconut oil in medium soup pot.  Add garlic put through garlic press or well diced along with the spices and saute a bit on low heat.

2. Add the chicken, carrot and squash as you dice it up.

3. Deglaze a bit with the wine.

4. While you're doing that, puree the second set of squash with the coconut oil and water.  Add to the pot and let simmer for 20-30 minutes or longer.  Add the turmeric and stir.

5. Enjoy with your 14-month old...oh wait, that's just at the Jones Cottage.  But do find someone to enjoy your dinner with!

6. I made this a second time and used the 1 tsp of all the spices.  It was a little spicy (with the 1 tsp pepper flakes) but we thought it tasted better!

Tomorrow, I'll post the flax seed bread recipe I made to go with this.  Kind of like a bran flat bread without the wheat.

For more interesting ideas check out Monday Mania , Pennywise Platter and Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays!

October 9, 2011

German Potato Salad

I hate potato salad...this is not potato salad.  I think it's ridiculous that it's called potato salad.  No mayonnaise anywhere near it.  Bacon, vinegar and potatoes, what's there not to love!  Andrew still doesn't like it but I'm not sure he tried it.  He certainly won't try it with the onions in there :)

German Potato Salad (adapted from this recipe)

6 c diced potatoes, leave the skin on, it won't hurt you!
8 slices bacon, diced a bit before you cook them, mine was still slightly frozen which makes it easy
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 c rice vinegar
1/4 c water
3 T sugar
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 T fresh parsley

1. Place potatoes in a pot and fill with enough water to cover.  Bring to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork.  Drain and set aside to cool a bit.

2. Place bacon in large, deep frying pan over med-hi heat.  Fry until browned and crisp.  Remove from pan with slotted spoon and set aside.

3.  Add the onion to the bacon grease and cook over medium heat until browned (or even carmelized but to carmelize turn the heat down a bit).  If there's too much grease drain a little bit.  Add the vinegar, water, salt and pepper to the pan.  Bring to a boil and then add the potatoes and parsley.

4.  Add about half of the bacon.  Heat through, then transfer to a serving dish.  Add remaining bacon over the top and serve warm.

Note: I made this for a potluck at work last week.  I made the dish the night before and then transferred it to my crock-pot.  The next day I just heated it up on low for a few hours before the potluck.  Seemed to work fine to me! 

Posted at Monday Mania and Grain-free Real Food!

October 5, 2011

AMAZING Dairy-free "Ranch" Dip/Dressing

This stuff is amazing!  No really, it is amazing.  I adapted it from this lady's recipe...most of my adaptations are because I don't have the stuff on hand or I'm too lazy.  Either way, it's amazing.  I know I said it before :)

Note: If you don't have a high powered blender like I do, you might actually want to soak the cashews.  I have a Vitamix and it just blends the heck out them!

AMAZING Dairy-Free "Ranch" Dip/Dressing
1 1/2 cups nuts (cashew or mac or combo) soak them for a creamier dressing (1-2 hrs is fine, then drain)
1 cup filtered water for blending
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (I use light olive oil so it's not strongly flavored)
3 dates (can totally be left out!)
1 teaspoon garlic pwd, heaping
1 teaspoon dill
1 tablespoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon basil, dried

Put everything in the blender and puree the heck out of it.  It will thicken up in the fridge.  So, let it do it's thing and see if you want it thinner or if you like it that thick.  I tend to thin a bit for dressing but use it as is to dip vegetables or put on buffalo chicken wings!

It makes a great taco salad dressing if you thin a bit and add some chipotle Tabasco!

Find more to try at Pennywise Platter Thursday!

Love Letters to My Sons..