Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Doughnuts (vegan and gluten free)

We often do two versions of the same recipe when we make gluten free, because non-gluten free people don't always enjoy gluten-free foods. But these are so good that everyone likes them. LOVES them, actually! Even with the slightly more expensive gluten free flours, they're cheaper than buying them at a doughnut store.

Here's the recipe:

Baked chocolate doughnuts

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup oil

1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax seed + 3 tbsp water = 1 egg)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup rice flour

3 tablespoons potato starch

1 tablespoon tapioca starch

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Bake at 325 for 13 minutes in a doughnut pan like this one:

Sprinkle with powered sugar when cool.

Makes six doughnuts

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Dog Biscuits

Store-bought dog biscuits are often filled with a lot of preservatives that aren't good for dogs. And they're expensive.

I had a jar of all-natural peanut butter that I had bought at a surplus grocery outlet for $1. We had gotten some really awesome natural peanut butters there, but no one liked this particular brand very much and it was just sitting in the cupboard uneaten. So my son and I made dog treats with it. We doubled this recipe so we had plenty for our two dogs and some to give my parents' dog as a gift.

8 oz peanut butter

2 cups flour

1 T baking powder

1 C milk

Roll and cut out into shapes like you would with sugar cookie cutouts. Some people use Dog bone shaped cookie cuttersbut we just used some Christmas shaped ones that we had.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes on a greased cookie sheet.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Wax Paper

It's been years since I've bought wax paper. When we empty a box of cereal, I open up the cereal liner, rinse it off, hang it over a chair to dry, and save it for the next time I might need wax paper.

Here are no-bake cookies sitting on cereal box wax paper (and evidence that a chubby toddler hand swiped some cookies)

And layers of chocolate chip cookies separated by cereal box wax paper:

Cereal box wax paper is what I usually use first, because I don't have to wash it once it's used. But we don't buy that much store bought cereal, so when we run out of cereal box wax paper, I get out the sheets that I bought for my dehydrator, which double nicely as re-usable wax paper. They clean off nicely and can be used over and over again.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Vegan Egg Nog

My family enjoys homemade egg nog during the Christmas season, which I often make when there's extra milk to use up. But the vegans in the family feel a bit left out, so I like to make a vegan version to go along with our regular egg nog. Here's the recipe:

1 1/2 cups vanilla-flavored soymilk

1 1/2 tablespoons vegan vanilla instant pudding mix

1/2 banana, sliced and frozen

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Blend 1/4 C soy milk and pudding mix and let stand 3 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients and blend well.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas Photos

When my kids were little, we dragged them to a portrait studio, spent hours trying to get them all smiling and cooperating at the same time for a picture, and paid an arm and a leg.

With my grandchildren, I used my iphone to take the pictures, and we didn't leave the house. We still had a hard time getting them to pose. We didn't end up getting a picture with both boys at the same time, but we got some really sweet ones.

Here are our attempts to get them all in the same picture:

Here are my favorite three. I love them as much as any we've ever had done in a portrait studio or by a professional photographer.

Toddlers are really rough to photograph, especially the super-busy, wild and crazy types. I'm aware that there are toddlers out there who you can sit down and tell them to look at the camera and they do. Not this guy! That's why we found interesting things to show him on the tree and on the fireplace in order to capture his interest. I think what makes these so cute is that he wasn't posing. He really was interested in the ornament he was looking at on the tree.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Taco seasoning

Not only are store-bought taco seasonings filled with all kinds of ingredients you probably don't want to put in your body, they are more expensive than making your own. You probably have most of the ingredients in your spice cupboard. If you don't use some of these spices very often, they can sit on a shelf getting stale until they expire. Better to use them up!

Here's the recipe:

(Makes about 3 Tablespoons)

4 teaspoons chili powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

That's all there is to it!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Egg Nog (non-alcoholic)

Today was one of those days when my teenagers told me that what we had for supper was not going to keep them full for long and they didn't know what else to eat. Usually, I at least quadruple recipes so those growing boys can eat leftovers for many snacks and meals, and we usually have plenty of snacks on hand. But today I realized we needed something more, so I looked in the fridge and found I had plenty of milk close to its expiration date and a few cartons of eggs. I also had some whipping cream I had bought for homemade ice cream that I haven't had a chance to make yet. Perfect ingredients for making egg nog!

Here's my recipe:

12 eggs, separated

6 cups milk

2 cups whipping cream

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

Cinnamon and sugar

Separate eggs. Mix yolks and sugar with an electric mixer for 10 minutes. Refrigerate while you're completing the next two steps.

Clean off your beaters and beat egg whites with the electric mixer until stiff peaks form.

Clean off your beaters and beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks form.

Mix milk and nutmeg into the egg yolk mixture. Fold in egg whites and cream.

Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top. Or, if your family is like mine, spoon it generously on top.

I doubled this for my family, but I don't think I would have had to. It's very rich and really does make quite a bit, so I think one recipe would have been sufficient.

Thursday, December 5, 2013


If you've got fruit, pectin, sugar, and a stovetop, you can make jelly very easily.

This is a great thing to make with extra fruit in the summer, but also a great treat with frozen fruit in the winter. Simply defrost and follow the directions on the pectin container.

I bought this pectin, which allows you to make 22 half-pint jars total. You can make up to 10 jars per batch:

You can double or triple the recipe, which is nice if you have a lot of fruit. There is also a low-sugar recipe on the pectin. I haven't tried it yet, but it looks interesting.

You can can or freeze the jelly too, but unless I have a bunch of fresh fruit to use up in the summer, I like to just make enough for us to eat right away. I just put the jelly in glass jars.

Here's a batch of blackberry jelly:

Monday, December 2, 2013

Chicken Stock

Winter time is perfect for soup. You don't have to buy canned broth in the store, or those packets of chicken bouillon. It's easy and cheaper to make it yourself! If you've recently had a meal with roast chicken (or turkey!), you can use the bones to make chicken stock. Just put water in a pot, plop in your chicken bones, some onions, carrots, or garlic if you have them on hand, bring to a boil then simmer. I only did mine about 2 hours, but I've read that some people do it as long as 24 hours to really bring out the nutrition and flavor.

I made enough for 2 big pots of homemade soups this week.