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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Thursday Recipe - Chocolate GF Sponge Cake

I'm experimenting with a wheat-free diet. My health issues are getting the best of me and I'm willing to try anything that might help at this point.

So I decided to start this wheat-free diet on my birthday. While I have guests in the house. And all sorts of other crap going on in my life. Not a good idea. Extra stress is not pleasant.

But it did give me the option of playing around with my GF sponge cake recipe. It's easy, fairly quick to pull together, and makes a delicious cake. I made one on Saturday that was gone before everyone got a slice. It was vanilla, filled with coconut cream, whipped topping, and fresh berries. Today I shall attempt chocolate sponge with chocolate whipped frosting.

*Note: This cake is more dry than the vanilla version. It's best to underbake it a bit, then after it cools, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Frost and serve the next day. Mine also didn't rise nearly as high as the vanilla one. Still tasty.

Chocolate Gluten-Free Sponge Cake

7 eggs
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. cocoa powder
1/4 t. salt
1/3 c. rice flour
3/4 c. almond flour

Heat oven to 325. Grease a 10-inch springform pan and set aside.

Separate eggs, being careful to keep the yolks out of the whites. Set the whites aside.

Beat the yolks until very thick and creamy, at least 3-5 minutes. Add sugar and salt. Beat for another 1-2 minutes. Stir in flours. Set aside.

Beat whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold egg yolk mixture and cocoa into the whites until the bits of white foam are all incorporated and cocoa is mixed in.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, just until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool 10 minutes in the pan, then gently release the cake. Finish cooling on a baking rack.

Once cool, split the cake into two layers. Fill with half of the chocolate frosting. Use the rest of the frosting to decorate the cake. Refrigerate to set.

Store in the fridge.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Monday Promo!

I've got a friend with a book going FREE for one day only. If you enjoy clean romance, check out this book. (She even has a great title - I've got a Second Chances story out, too. Great minds...)

Second Chances by Donna K. Weaver

Thirty-seven-year-old Francie Davis is sure her luck has changed when she lands a job on campus that will pay her tuition. But when her handsome new boss yells at her on the first day of work, Francie learns that the last person you expect to fall in love with might be the one that’s the most perfect for you.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Thursday Recipe - Hawaiian Haystacks

This is another of those build-it-yourself recipes. Everyone puts their own together with whatever they like. It's easy to adapt to various food allergies and preferences. It's also easy to cook, which is always a win in my book.

Hawaiian Haystacks

4-5 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I use the frozen ones straight from the freezer)
2 c. water
1/4 c. cornstarch
2 T. chicken bouillon
1 T. dried parsley
1/2 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. turmeric
1/2 t. paprika
1/2 t. rosemary
1/2 t. thyme
2 c. white rice
1 t. salt
4 1/2 c. water

Put the chicken in a large crockpot. Cover and cook on low 3-4 hours or high 2-3 hours, just until the chicken is barely done.

Remove chicken from the crockpot, leaving the liquid behind. Cut the chicken into bite-size chunks and put back into the crockpot. Mix the 2 c. water, cornstarch, bouillon, and herbs together, then gently stir into the chicken. Cover and let cook on low for another 45 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, combine rice, salt, and 4 1/2 c. water. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes or so until rice is done. Or just dump everything in your rice cooker and let it do its thing.

Serve chicken gravy over rice with any or all of the following toppings. Season with soy sauce to taste.

Toppings (not limited to this list, use your imagination):
sliced celery
shredded carrots
pineapple tidbits
green onions
chopped bell pepper
chopped daikon radish
sliced water chestnuts
bamboo shoots
sliced almonds
sliced olives
shredded lettuce
chow mein noodles

Monday, August 7, 2017

Random Images from my Phone

Okay, not totally random. These were just the latest four that were downloaded to my laptop.

This is the famous Teapot Dome Gas Station in Zillah, WA. We stopped on our way to Husum, WA, where we went white water rafting on the Little White Salmon River. High adventure for me and my hubby.
 The gas station is now a historical site. It wasn't open when we were there so we couldn't buy any keepsakes inside the little station, but we could walk around and look at it. Cute little building.
 And check out the prices! I haven't seen gas that low for decades!
I also made totoros for a friend's children. If you haven't seen the movie, it's a cute one from Studio Ghibli. My Friend Totoro is a good one to watch with kids, although it might give them a few ideas...

What have you been up to?

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Thursday Recipe - Saucy Potatoes in the Slow Cooker or in Foil on the Grill

Grilling potatoes just doesn't work for me. Yeah, I could wrap them up and make baked potatoes, but I still haven't got the temperature thing right. They are usually burnt on the outside and raw in the middle when I try.

I came across this recipe and thought it would be worth trying. They were tasty and mostly done without being burnt, but some were still crunchy. We decided this dish would work a lot better in the crockpot. Or else you could try boiling the potato slices for 5 minutes or so to pre-cook them before wrapping it all up in foil.

Saucy Potatoes

6 medium potatoes
1/2 c. mayonnaise
2 T. grated parmesan or romano cheese
2 T. dried parsley
1 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. paprika
1/2 t. black pepper
1 small onion

Scrub potatoes really well, then slice into 1/4" slices. Place in a large pot, cover with hot water and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat and cover. Set aside while you prep the sauce.

In a large bowl, mix together mayonnaise, cheese, parsley, garlic powder, paprika, and black pepper.

Peel the onion, then slice into thin rings or slices. Add to sauce.

Drain potatoes. Add to sauce. Toss gently to coat.

To grill: Divide potatoes between two large pieces of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Fold up into flat packets. Grill over medium heat until potatoes are tender - 20-30 minutes. Makes two large packets.

For slow cooker: Dump the potato mixture into a large crockpot. Cook on low 3-4 hours, until potatoes are tender.

Serves 4-6 people.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Black Currant Jelly is da BOMB!

I picked my black currants. My little bush produced almost a gallon of berries. By themselves they weren't that sweet, but in jelly? Delicious!

So, if you're lucky enough to have fresh currants (or gooseberries or nanking cherries or anything similar), make some jelly. It's worth the time and effort. Here's my step-by-step process:

1. Pick the berries. Pretty self-explanatory.

2. Wash the berries. Pick out the spiders and slugs and other creepy crawlies. Get rid of the dead leaves and stems. Get them as clean as you can.

3. Dump them into a large pot. Add just enough water to cover the berries. Bring it to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Remove from the heat, cover, and let them sit for a couple of hours.

5. Use a big spoon and smash the berries. Don't worry too much about the seeds and skins and stuff, you want to free up as much juice and flavor as you can at this point.

6. Place a large colander over a large bowl. Once you've smashed the berries, pour the berry smash through the colander to strain out the seeds and skins and stuff. You want just the juice. Leave the colander over the bowl and let the juice keep dripping for an hour or so. Stir the berries every once in a while to help the juice get through.

7. Once you have the juice strained, measure it and figure out how much jelly you need to make. At this point, follow the directions on your pectin. I'm really liking the Ball pectin in the large jars. For jelly with that, you need 1 1/3 c. juice, 1 1/2 T powdered pectin, and 1 1/2 c. sugar for each pint of jelly. Don't make a batch larger than 7-8 pints, though. Even if you have a giant pot that won't boil over with that much juice and sugar in it, it's hard to get the pectin and sugar to completely dissolve and cook right. The jelly won't set right, so just do multiple batches if you have more than a couple of quarts of juice.

8. Figure out how many pints you are going to need, then add one. Put that many clean jars in a sink full of really hot water. (If you're using smaller jars, figure out how many you will need. I don't recommend jars larger than a pint for jelly. It doesn't set right in the quart jars.)

9. Once you have the juice measured out, stir in the pectin. Cook it over high heat to a full rolling boil, it should keep boiling even after you stir it. Dump in the sugar all at once. Cook and stir over high heat until it comes to a full boil again. Boil and stir for 1 minute. Turn off the heat, move the jelly off the stove, and carefully pour into hot jars.

10. Wipe the rims of the jars clean, then seal and process following the directions for your altitude and your equipment. If you don't want to bother with this step, put the lids on the jars and let them cool on the counter. Once cool, refrigerate. Eat within a month or so.

Black currants make a wonderfully flavorful, deep red-purple jelly. I can't wait for next year and hopefully a whole lot currants.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Thursday Recipe - Grilled Tri-Tip Steak

We did this on our grill for dinner. Very tasty, although my kids complained it wasn't as well done as they preferred. But with tri-tip, if you cook it too long, the meat gets really tough. Tri-tip steaks are fairly lean and usually cut fairly thick. You want to cook them somewhere between medium-rare and medium, still very pink to red in the center. After they are cooked and rest for a few minutes, slice them nice and thin against the grain. You don't want long strings of meat, but very thin slices. It helps the tenderness of the cut.

Grilled Tri-Tip Steak

2-3 lb tri-tip steaks, cut 2-3 inches thick
2 t. lemon pepper seasoning
2 t. salt
1 t. ground black pepper
1 t. paprika
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. dried rosemary

Mix all the spices together. Rub into the steaks, making sure to cover both sides and the edges. Let them sit on a plate for a couple of hours.

Heat your grill nice and hot. If you have a thermometer, you want it at 500-600°F. Slap the steaks on the grill and cook for 2-3 minutes per side, this should give you a good char. Move the steaks to the upper rack if you have one, or off to one side away from the direct heat. Cover and cook for another 20-30 minutes over the lower heat until the meat is done to your liking, or almost done. You want it slightly under-done. Set the meat on a cutting board and cover loosely with foil. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes.

Slice against the grain into thin slices. Serve warm.