Monday, August 31, 2015

Blueberry Muffins

There is nothing like the simplicity of a blueberry muffin for breakfast (or anytime for that matter). Frozen blueberries will work, but fresh really are best because the cell walls haven not been broken down by ice crystals, so you get this glorious burst of blueberry when you take a bite.  The nutmeg is optional, but I highly recommend you try it. It’s a subtle flavor that goes very well with the blueberries. One of the things that I like about these muffins is that they have a very light texture.

2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp ground nutmeg (optional)
1 cup sour milk*
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
2 cups fresh blueberries (plus 2 tbsp flour)

·      Preheat the oven to 400F.
·      Line the muffin tin with cupcake liners and lightly spray the liners with cooking spray.
·      Combine and whisk the first 5 ingredients (flour to nutmeg) in a large mixing bowl.
·      In a small mixing bowl, combine and whisk the liquid ingredients (sour milk to the egg).
·      Make a well in the flour mixtures.
·      Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture.
·      Stir until just combined.
·      In another small bowl, mix the blueberries and 2 tbsp of flour. This helps keep the blueberries from sinking to the bottom of the muffins.
·      Gently fold the blueberries into the muffin mixture.
·      Spoon into muffin tin.
·      Bake for 20-25 minutes.
·      Cool on a wire rack.

*Sour Milk: Place 1 tbsp lemon juice or white vinegar into the measuring cup then fill to the 1 cup mark with rice milk (or the milk substitute of your choice).

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Misuse of Power - A 13 year old faces being sent to juvenile detention for not seeing her father

I don’t share much of my life history. It’s really not related to writing a food blog, but sometimes you have to step outside your box. When I was 3 my father left my mother, my infant brother, and me for another woman. He did not really want much to do with us kids. My mother had to beg him to come see us. He once tried to get custody so he wouldn’t have to pay child support. It wasn’t much and he was a chemist who made decent money. When I was 6, he told me that I could not keep going back and forth between him and my mom like a yo-yo. That’s exactly what he told me. I wanted to see my dad, but I was terrified of never seeing my mother ever again. She was the one who was always there for me and took care of me. Sometimes there was yelling, but it never escalated beyond that. When I heard about the following story it really touched me deeply and I feel the need to share it.

A fellow mom in a mothers group on Facebook will get the opportunity to watch her 13 year old daughter be arrested and placed in juvenile detention because her daughter does NOT want to see her father, a law enforcement officer, who kicked her out of his house at age 12. It was her 12th birthday and when she told her father that she wanted to spend her birthday with him and not his new wife, he flipped out and kicked his 12 year old daughter out of the house and disowned her. Last year this same man videoed his wife while she shot herself in the head and killed herself to avoid abuse charges! The judge told the father that the mother could not force the daughter to see him, so the father asked the court to arrest his daughter if she won’t see him. The damn South Carolina judge agreed to do so. So a 13 year old girl who has done nothing wrong other than not wanting to see the father who kicked her out of his home on her 12th birthday will go to juvenile detention.  It’s not that she hates her father or doesn’t want to see him; she’s terrified of him. She’s scared of him retaliating against her for not seeing him. He apparently leaves guns all over his house in case someone breaks in. Even her therapist believes that it’s a bad idea to have the daughter and father in the same room. Unfortunately, the judge doesn’t care about that. Obviously this is not about wanting a relationship with his daughter, but about wanting to control her.  It makes me sick, sad, livid, and broken hearted. I understand that there are instances where there is parent alienation, but this is not one of those cases. I really have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that a judge would arrest a child for not wanting to see a parent.

Please share this story.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Random Thoughts Pt. 6

This is a post is a shout out to several of my friends and their blogs, pages, and businesses. Check them out when you get a chance. I get nothing from sharing this info and these link other than knowing that I am sharing their awesomeness with you all.

Writing a blog is an easy thing for some people and for others it takes much more effort.  For me, creating recipes and putzing around in the kitchen come much more easily than writing. Even when I was in school, I hated the page/word requirement that teachers and professors often put on a writing assignment. I would usually struggle to meet said requirements. It was so frustrating because I could say want I needed to say in fewer words.  I have a friend is a writer by trade and she has this amazing, funny, witty, and moving blog about her experience as a mom with two special needs children. Under her blog title she refers to herself as a “not-so-special mom” and I beg to differ. She is an amazing mom and friend! When you have a moment, head over to her blog and check it out. You won’t be disappointed. Unexceptional Parenting 

Many kids will eventually attempt to climb out of their cribs and at some point they will be successful in their endeavor. My very creative friend came up with a way to keep her daughter in her crib without impeding her mobility. She recently has become aware of someone who has copied her work and not only that, but created an Etsy shop and copied and pasted her story as well. Check out my friend’s shop. She makes a quality product. The Naughty Monkey

As we transition into fall, our thoughts start to think about the upcoming holidays. Check out Made by Katy Crafts for fun, affordable jewelry. She even does custom pieces. If you have a friend or family member who has a chronic illness or lives in chronic pain, she has spoon necklaces that represent the Spoon Theory.

For those of you who live in the Charleston, SC area or if you are visiting Charleston, SC, check out Jody Mack Photography. She is an amazing photographer. She's great a catching those natural moments where everyone looks at ease. The picture of me in the “About Me” section was taking by her. It is one my favorite pictures of me.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Basil Pesto Shrimp

Several weeks ago, my neighbor’s daughter brought us a large bag of basil from their garden. Naturally, I was excited. Unless you are growing your own basil, it can get expensive buying that much basil. What to make? There was no way I was going to make that much pasta sauce. Pesto! For those of us that are allergic to dairy, store bought pesto always has cheese it in. The pesto that I made for this dish is great and it’s quite flexible if you need to make changes. If you don’t have, don’t like, or allergic to pine nuts then use walnuts. If you don’t have any nuts or you’re allergic to all nuts, then double the amount of the diary free Parmesan cheese substitute. If you can have dairy, just use your favorite Parmesan or Parmesan/Reggiano cheese. Serve with a light salad and some garlic bread and you’re set! Also, the shrimp marinated in this pasta is great by itself and would be an awesome appetizer.

pesto divided
2 lbs peeled and deveined shrimp
1 lb box of thin spaghetti

·      Mix 2 tbsp of pesto with the peeled and deveined shrimp.
·      Let sit for 5 minutes.
·      Heat a stovetop grill pan or a skillet on medium high heat.
·      Let the pan get really hot.
·      Brush the pan with some olive oil.
·      Place the shrimp in a single layer on the pan (if you’re pan isn’t large enough, then do the shrimp in batches).
·      Start your pasta water. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil and make sure it’s well salted.
·      After about 2-3 minutes or after the bottoms are caramelized, turn the shrimp over.
·      Remove the shrimp to a bowl or plate.
·      Once you’re water is boiling add your pasta.
·      Cook pasta for 1 minute less than the suggested time. 5 minutes for the thin spaghetti.
·      Transfer the pasta to a large bowl. (save about ¼ cup pasta water).
·      Toss the pasta with the pesto.
·      Add the shrimp.


4 cups (3oz.) fresh basil, loosely put in cup. (don’t pack it down)
3 cloves of garlic
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
2 tbsp Go Veggie grated Parmesan style topping*
zest and juice of 1 lemon
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper, freshly ground
⅛ tsp crushed red pepper (more if you want it spicier)

·      Rinse the basil and place in the food processor.
·      Add all the ingredients in the food processor EXCEPT the olive oil.
·      Pulse the food processor until the ingredients are smooth.
·      Very slowly pour the olive oil down the chute of the food processor lid until incorporated and smooth. Set aside.

~If you have leftovers, pour the reserved pasta water into the food processor to collect the residual pesto. Save and use when you reheat the pasta in a skillet.

* There are 2 kinds of Go Veggie Parmesan style topping. One is casein free and the other has casein in it. Here is a picture of the casein free one:

Monday, May 25, 2015

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

One of the few recipes that I tried recently is a peanut butter swirled brownie. Chocolate and peanut butter are one of my favorite flavor combinations. I tried doing a peanut butter swirled brownie, but the peanut butter was completely overshadowed by the rich chocolate brownie. Tonight, I decided to keep the peanut butter and brownie separate by layering them and topping them off with a layer of chocolate. The result was truly like a merging of a brownie and a peanut butter cup. I highly recommend you try this brownie!

Brownie Base

4 ounces Dairy Free Dark Chocolate Dream
  cup regular olive oil
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tbsp Dutch cocoa powder
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp coffee extract
Peanut Butter Filling
6 oz Dairy Free Dark Chocolate Dream, melted (for chocolate topping)

·      Preheat the oven to 350°F.
·      Grease and flour a square 8 inch cake pan.
·      In a medium bowl, combine and whisk the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
·      Melt the chocolate with the oil over low heat.
·      Once melted, turn of the burner and add the sugar.
·      Quickly stir in the eggs.
·      Add vanilla and coffee extracts.
·      Gently add the flour mixture and mix just until incorporated.
·      Pour into the prepared pan.
·      Bake 23-25 minutes.
·      While the brownies are still hot, gently spread the peanut butter filling.
·      Melt 6oz. of chocolate and spread over the peanut butter layer.
·      Cool until the chocolate is firm.
·      Cut into 16 squares and remove from the pan.

Peanut Butter Filling

cup peanut butter
1 tbsp dairy free margarine (I use Fleischmann’s Unsalted Margarine Sticks)
¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3-4 tsp rice milk

·      Combine all the ingredients until smooth. It will be very thick.

Random Thoughts Pt. 5

Hi there! I’m back. I didn’t mean to be MIA, but life happens. I really haven’t done much new baking/cooking since the last time I posted. My attention has been focused more in other areas.

We are very fortunate to have our daughter in a Montessori school. It’s a small, but amazing school. We love it and more importantly, so does she! I’m not going to get on my soapbox, but I truly wish more, if not all, schools were set up this way.  It’s amazing how much Maddie has learned since she started school there. She is already doing addition and subtraction using 4 digit numbers. . The last I time I spoke with her teacher, I was told that she is also doing division! Maddie has always loved reading and her reading skills have exploded. She’s in kindergarten! The amazing this is that none of this is forced. They learn their lessons when they are ready and they can take their time learning something if they need to. When her afternoon teacher found out about my science background, she invited me to come to class and do experiments with the kids, so I started coming Wednesday afternoon to do a variety of fun science experiments.  I also went on their first field trip to the Nature Museum. They are a great group of kids. It’s hard to believe that her first official year of school is almost over. She’s growing up so quickly.

Maddie has been taking gymnastics since the summer of 2012. From the moment that she saw the US Women’s Olympic Gymnastics team on the Today Show, she has been hooked. And that’s putting it mildly. She would beg to watch the Olympic gymnastics on YouTube over and over again. She would study it and then “try” to do what she saw. After that initial summer, she has been going twice a week. This year she really started talking about being on team and competing. She auditioned for team and made it! We are so proud of her. This summer will be busy with gymnastics camps and lessons. She keeps talking about winning a gold medal and with her focus and determination; I won’t be surprised if she meets that goal head on.

I have also been trying to purge and organize my house. For some reason, this year, it has descended into chaos and it’s been difficult to focus on the things that I wasn’t to do. Sometimes it is difficult to let go of stuff that I don’t use or need. The hard part is the question what if I need it some day? keeps popping into my head. This time I have been forcing myself to ignore that little voice in the back of my head and I am getting rid a lot of stuff. 

I never did post about Maddie’s birthday this past December/January. One of the things I love about her is that she doesn’t pay attention the typical gender stereotypes. She loves both “girl” and “boy” stuff. Personally, I HATE how so much is categorized into gender stereotypes. Toys, books, interests, and even colors are divided into girl and boy categories. Anyway, back to the birthday party. This year she wanted a pirate ship birthday cake, specifically Bucky the Pirate Ship from Jake and the Neverland Pirates. And she wanted it to be a 3 dimensional cake. YIKES!  I have never done anything like that before.  I decided to challenge myself and see if I could do it. I used her toy Bucky as my model and mold for some pieces. I also decided to use just buttercream icing and only parts of it were fondant/gum paste. I am quite proud of how it turned out. Most importantly, she loved it!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Random Thoughts Pt. 4

Last weekend, we had some very good friends over for dinner. I made the Lahori Chicken and Potato Curry with rice and a lemon almond tart (recipe to come). I had a major moment of panic while cooking the chicken.  My nose was lightly stuffy, so I really couldn’t smell very well. Once I put the spices in the with the onions the smell usually envelopes me. It did this time and I was worried that there was something wrong. Then I did something that I have never done with this dish, I tasted the sauce right after I pureed it, but before it was finished BIG mistake! It did NOT taste anything like it was suppose to taste like. It was so very bitter, not exactly what you want to serve dinner guests. Thank goodness I didn’t throw it out. By the time it was done, it was just as it was suppose to be.  Yay! More importantly we had a great time with great friends.

This winter has been a crazy winter for being sick in our family. Maddie got some nasty respiratory bug that lasted for several weeks and then something else. Then I came down with the same damn virus. It lasted for 6 weeks. It just lingered on and on. Then I got another bug, then Mike, then Maddie and then back to me. I’ve spent the first 3 days of last week with a fever over 100F. Not fun! I am so ready for all of this sickness to be over with.  I think I am finally on the mend.

I have been working on my photography and teaching myself Photoshop via YouTube.  I have some photographic projects planned. As soon I they are done, I will share them with you all. 

Coming soon: Chocolate Pillow Brownies, Lemon Almond Tart, Dairy Free Cheesecake