Fall Flowers – 2019

A gallery of my fall blooms from this year.

A volunteer chrysanthemum by my mailbox. Isn’t it beautiful?

Sedum Autumn Joy

Purple Dome Aster

Chrysanthemum Daisy Rose – a very reliable bloomer.

Aster Bluebird

Aster Purple Dome again.

Red Impatiens in the pot, Coreopsis Moonbeam, Coreposis Zagreb, and Purple Dome Aster all still blooming away.

Another volunteer chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum Daisy Rose again.

Echinacea Cheyenne Spirit sending up some late fall blooms.

Chrysanthemum Whippoorwill

Chrysanthemum Grandchild

Daisy Rose in all her brilliance.

The volunteer chrysanthemum all opened up and exploding with blooms.

Fresh Bread Out of the Oven

I’ve been honing my bread making skills this last year. Follow my bread making journey by reading the latest on the Baking Day page.

Just can’t beat freshly baked sprouted spelt bread and raspberry jam.

Chocolate Raspberry Breakfast Quinoa – Make Ahead Instant Pot Meal

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I’ve been making good use of quinoa for breakfast in the Instant Pot lately. This is the latest and the easiest so far.

It is true that “necessity is the mother of invention.” The only reason that I came up with this recipe is because I was going to make the Pumpkin Spice Breakfast Quinoa, but I was out of pumpkin so I had to come up with another flavor.

This ended up being ridiculously simple.

Chocolate Raspberry Breakfast Quinoa: 

2 cups quinoa, rinsed
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbls butter (or coconut oil if you can use that)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup raspberry jam (or really any favorite jam flavor)
3 1/2 cups water

Cook in the Instant Pot on high pressure for 1 minute with natural pressure release. You can also use the Delay Start feature and set this up the night before to come on and be warm and ready when you wake up in the morning.

Serve warm sprinkled with sliced almonds, chocolate chunks and a dash of cream.

Mexican Brown Rice and Lentils

img_9966So, we got home from a trip over New Year’s and I had 30 minutes to come up with something for dinner based on what was in the pantry and freezer. I quickly consulted my new cookbooks to see if I could get any ideas. I had just gotten the Instant Pot Bible before Christmas when I got my new Instant Pot. And over the holidays I found One Pot Wonders on clearance while browsing at Barnes & Noble. (Note: These are non-affiliate links by the way.)

After flipping through both these books, I found one recipe in each that I had about half of the ingredients for. So, I combined the two, threw it all in the Instant Pot and everyone loved it! I wasn’t sure how the lentils were going to go over as we don’t eat them very often, and you know how kids can be when they are presented with a food that they don’t recognize. But, no one even noticed. The only complaint I got was that the 3-year old didn’t want to eat the corn. But, she never eats that anyway. So, it was a bit hit. Everyone asked for seconds, and thanks to my 8-quart Instant Pot we had enough leftover for the next night (which I re-warmed in the IP as well for 2 hours on the normal slow cook setting).

If you want to give it a go, grab that bag of brown rice and lentils. It’s really an easy recipe.

Mexican Brown Rice & Lentils: 

(Note: I used my 8-quart Instant Pot for this recipe. It made enough to feed eight, or 4-6  with a modest amount of leftovers.)

3 cups brown rice
1 cup lentils
3/4 cup yellow onion, diced
6-8 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp season salt (I like Tony’s)
dash of Cayenne pepper
1 tbls cumin
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup salsa
6 cups water/vegetable broth (I used half water, half broth)
1 lb. cooked chicken (I used chicken that I had in the freezer, but you could use frozen uncooked chicken strips as well.)
2 tbls light olive oil (or other mild tasting oil)
1 can whole kernel corn, or 1 cup frozen corn
lime juice (optional)
cilantro (optional)

Saute the onion and garlic in a little olive oil in the Instant Pot. Add the salt, pepper and spices. Cook the onions and garlic until they are aromatic, but be careful not to let them burn. That Saute setting can get hot. Then add the lentils and rice to Instant Pot stirring to coat all the grains with the oil and seasonings. Add the diced tomatoes and water/broth. Set the chicken in the center of the grains. Close the lid and set to sealing position. Cook on high pressure for 30 minutes with natural pressure release. Total cook time to come to pressure, cook and release naturally was just a little over one hour.

When the food has cooked, remove the lid and add the corn and squeeze a little lime juice in and stir. Serve sprinkled with fresh or dried cilantro and chopped red onions. Enjoy!

 

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Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Quinoa – Instant Pot Recipe

I’m continuing with my breakfast theme using quinoa. This time with Apple Cinnamon Quinoa. I served this with soft boiled eggs for Christmas Eve breakfast this year. They all cooked nicely together in the Instant Pot at the same time. The quinoa nestled nicely on the bottom, and the eggs happily sitting on their trivet above.

* Note: I have an 8 quart Instant Pot. Adjust the recipe as necessary for smaller sizes.

Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Quinoa:

2 cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed

3-4 apples, peeled and chopped (I like Gala)

3 tbls butter

1 tbls Cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup agave nectar (or honey, brown sugar, or maple syrup)

3 cups water

Place all these ingredients in your Instant Pot. Cook at high pressure for 1 minute with natural pressure release. This is yummy served warm with a bit of cream on top.

If you want to cook eggs at the same time, place a trivet which will hold eggs in the pot so that it sits above the other ingredients. Stack your eggs on the trivet. Seal the lid. For soft boiled eggs cook for 1 minute at high pressure with natural pressure release. For hard boiled, cook at high pressure for 4 minutes with natural pressure release.

Enjoy your yummy breakfast!

Pumpkin Spice Quinoa Breakfast Porridge – Instant Pot Make Ahead Meal

I got an Instant Pot about a month ago and have been watching out for recipes that we can try given all our food restrictions. I was overjoyed to find this Pumpkin Quinoa Porridge recipe from Allergy Awesomeness. With a few tweaks I made it doable for all our allergies and even better, I can set it on delay start in the Instant Pot the night before and it’s ready first thing in the morning for the early risers, which means I get to lounge in bed longer with the baby. Win, win for me.

Make Ahead Pumpkin Quinoa Porridge:

2 cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed

1 can pumpkin (regular 15 oz size)

2 tsp pumpkin pie spice or Allspice

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup brown sugar

3 1/2 cups water

2 tsp Vanilla

3 tbls butter

Once all the ingredients are assembled in the pot, put the lid on in sealing position, and set it to cool at high pressure for 1 minute with natural pressure release.

If you want to make it in advance, use the Delay Start to set the number off hours that you want the pot to sit before it starts the cooking program. I like to assemble everything the night before and then use the Delay Start so that it is ready for my early risers when they get up. I love that I don’t even have to be out of bed yet and breakfast is ready for them. It’s great served warm with a bit of cream and some sliced almonds and chocolate chips sprinkled on top. You can also enjoy it leftover as a cold cereal. Eat up everyone! And stayed tuned. I have several more breakfast quinoa recipes coming up – Apple Cinnamon, Chocolate Raspberry, and Chocolate Custard to be exact.

Merry Muffins – Beet Chocolate Chip Muffins

Merry Muffins – Beet Chocolate Chip Muffins

I wanted to make something festive for Christmas. So, I took my normal banana chocolate chip muffins that I make every week for snacks and dressed them up a bit. This is basically a healthy version of red velvet cake using beets to add some fun color, nice texture and extra vitamins. The result: I had something special for Christmas week for the kids to eat for snack time. Here’s what I did if you want to give it a try.

Merry Muffins: 

  1. Steam 4 medium beets. I used my new Instant Pot. Cook however you prefer until tender. I cooked mine with the skins on and then they peeled right off when I took them out of the Instant Pot. In the Instant Pot, I cooked them on low pressure for 15 minutes with natural pressure release. Total time from locking on the lid to finish was about 40 minutes total.

     

  2. Reserve the cooking liquid from the beets to add a little extra color. You can easily reduce to concentrate the color by setting the Instant Pot to sauté after you have removed the beets while you assemble your other ingredients.
  3. Peel the cooked beets and purée in the food processor.
  4. Prepare your dry ingredients. Adjust the flours to suit your tastes and dietary needs.
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour (I like King Arthur or Trader Joe’s)
    • 1 cup whole grain spelt (or whole wheat flour)
    • 3/4 cup millet
    • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 2 tbls baking powder
    • 5 tbls cocoa powder
    • 2 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  5. Next, add some sweetness. Choose your sweetener. Below is what I used. Substitute what you like.
    • 3/4 cups honey
    • 1/2 cup maple syrup
    • 1/4 agave
  6. Get your liquids ready.
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 2 1/2 cups of milk (minus the volume of liquid from your reserved beet juice)
    • 6 egg yolks (we avoid egg whites, use 3 whole eggs if you like)
    • beet puree
    • 1/2 cup light olive oil (or other tasteless oil)
    • 3 very ripe mashed bananas
  7. Mix the dry ingredients. Add the sweetener to the wet ingredients, and the combine the wet and the dry together, stirring until just combined.img_9520
  8. Spoon into muffin cups. I like reusable silicone muffin cups.img_9521
  9. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes.
  10. This recipe made about 2 dozen regular size muffins, and about 3 dozen baby muffins. These are best enjoyed fresh. For best texture, freeze if you are not planning on using them within two days.img_9522

 

Cotton-lined Dishwashing Gloves

I posted about these originally in 2014. See post here. Try are back in stock and I just ordered more. Here is a non-affiliate link. I’m looking forward to using less lotion this winter for my chapped hands thanks to these. Happy dishwashing.

Roasted Beets, Sweet Potato, and Apples – Yum!

So I’ve been needing a new healthy snack in my life and this is what I came up with spur of the moment tonight. I’m going to experiment with variations on the seasonings, but this first batch turned out so nicely that I thought I would share.

This makes about 3-4 servings but could easily be doubled or tripled. And this would make a great side dish too. The colors are perfect for fall.

Roasted Beets, Sweet Potatoes, and Apples:

1 Sweet Potato, peeled and chopped

4 Small beets, peeled and chopped

2 Small apples, chopped

3 tbls Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp oregano

2 tbls brown sugar

Mix it all together in a bowl until the apples and veggies are coated with the oil and seasonings. Roast on 400 degrees for 35 minutes.

Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

I came up with this recipe after my birthday this year, since chocolate chip cookies are the best dessert EVER! And the only thing that could make them better is cooking them in a cast iron skillet. (If you know me, then you recognize two of my favorite things here – chocolate chip cookies, and anything cast iron.)

Cast Iron Skillet Cookie:

1 stick butter and 1/4 cup tasteless oil (I use light olive oil), melted

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup honey

1 egg

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp Vanilla

Whip the sugar, honey, and butter several minutes until light and creamy (this step is important, don’t skimp on the mixing). Then mix in the egg, salt, and vanilla.

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp Baking soda

1 cup chocolate chips

Stir together.

Mist your skillet(s) with cooking oil. You can either use one 10″ skillet, or three mini cast iron skillets. Fill with cookie batter. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Best served warm with vanilla ice cream.

Apple Cinnamon Baked French Toast

This is a mix up or recipes. It’s kind of a combination of apple cobbler, cinnamon rolls and French toast rolled all into one.

Our family has a tradition of breakfast for dinner on Sunday nights. I use this as an opportunity to experiment a little with breakfast options we’ve never tried before, or to make up and test new recipes. This was the later.

Here’s how I did it.

First mix up a basic baking powder biscuit dough with some cinnamon and sugar added.

Baking Powder Biscuit Dough:

2 cups all purpose flour (or your flour of choice)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbls baking powder

2 tbls sugar

1 tbls cinnamon

Cut in 1/2 stick of butter with pastry blender.

Add 1 cup of milk. Stir until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl and pour out on to a floured surface. Knead just until smooth and let rest.

Apple filling:

4 Gala apples (or your favorite baking apple, or whatever is in your fridge), chopped into 1″ pieces

Melt 2 tbls butter in a large skillet. Stir in 3 tbls brown sugar, and 1/2 tsp salt, and cook over medium heat until bubbly. Stir in apples and cook about 3 minutes.

French Toast Mix:

2/3 cup milk

2 eggs

1 tsp Vanilla

Whisk together in a 2-cup measuring cup.

Put it all together:

Butter a large cast iron skillet or a big casserole dish.

Roll your biscuit dough into 2″ balls and space evenly around your skillet or casserole. Next, pour the French toast mix over the biscuit dough. Spoon your cooked apples over the top of everything. Bake for 25 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

Serve with your favorite pancake topping – maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, whipped cream…. the options are endless.

Spicy Herbal Chai – Cleansing Tea, Safe for Pregnancy and Nursing

So, I’m picky about my teas. I’ve experimented for months to get a combination that I like. Too many herbs – too weak. Too much black tea – too much caffeine. Too many cloves – too strong. Too much black pepper – too spicy. Too much dandelion – too bitter.

This is just right. It’s sweet and spicy, hearty and robust. And it is a gentle cleanser for your liver and digestive system. The addition of dandelion, red clover, and milk thistle are gentle cleaners and liver protectors of for your liver. Dandelion, red clover, and nettle add excellent vitamins, nutrients, and minerals to your body.

These herbs are not only cleansing, but safe for pregnancy and nursing. Most are suggested herbs for using to add nutrients to your diet when pregnant and to your milk when nursing. As always, you should consult with your doctor or midwife before using any herbs especially if you take any medication.

Wanna try it…. here’s the recipe.

Spicy Cleansing Herbal Chai:

This recipe makes approximately 2 cups of loose leaf tea.

8 tsp loose leaf black tea

6 tsp dandelion leaf

5 tsp red clover

4 tsp nettle leaf

2 tsp mullien

2 tsp cinnamon sticks, crushed

2 tsp dried ginger

1 tsp stevia leaf

1 tsp dried orange peel

1 tsp cardamom pods, crushed

1/2 tsp black peppercorns, crushed

1/2 tsp whole cloves, crushed

1/2 tsp milk thistle, crushed

Mix all the ingredients. Add 2 tsp of tea mix to a tea strainer and steep for 5 minutes in boiling water.

Drink and enjoy!