Monday, August 1, 2016

Chocolate "Muffins" - Gluten Free

I'm thinking about creating a blog just for food that I make from other recipes as inspiration rather than strict instructions, in case it was delicious and I want to make it again on purpose.

A week ago, I read like five different dairy-free chia seed pudding recipes and then I made up my own and took it to a potluck, because I'm crazy and always feel the need to experiment when I have to take something someplace instead of using a tried and true favorite. It turned out pretty good, my friends liked it and appreciated that it was dairy free. Unfortunately, my kids didn't like it and I had a huge amount left over and had to eat it for every meal for the rest of the week. Okay, that is exaggerating a bit, my husband liked it and ate a little, but he thought it should have been sweeter, which I thought was weird coming from him who waters down juice.

I didn't take any pictures of that concoction, so this post can't be about that, but basically, I used a can of coconut milk, a lot of almond milk and like a half a cup of chia seeds and a whole can of crushed pineapple, but since I didn't measure my pudding wasn't pudding, it was too much like milk, so I added some more chia seeds and a bunch of leftover white rice I had in the fridge, Oh, and of course about a cup of shredded sweetened coconut. It was almost like Tropical Arroz con Leche, except dairy free. It was tasty, but not for every meal.

Anyway, last night, I made muffins without following a recipe! I guess I have been following one recipe enough to have the basic gist of it memorized, maybe that's not the same as not using one, but to back up a little further; like a year ago a friend of mine held a cooking demonstration about how to make gluten-free bread using buckwheat groats. I had never heard of buckwheat groats before then, but they are not wheat at all, they are a seed and good for you and stuff, (feel free to do your own research about that). So, she gave us three pages of bread recipes that all start with:

2 Cups ground Buckwheat groats (she uses her Vitamix, I use a cheap coffee-grinder)
2 Tablespoons ground Flax Seeds (grind these with the buckwheat groats)
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Himalayan Sea Salt
and most of her recipes use 2 Cups of water, because buckwheat flour behaves a lot like whole wheat flour, so it needs more moisture than all-purpose flour. This also makes it easy to find recipes to use it in, just look for whole wheat recipes and use buckwheat flour instead! Of course most of those recipes also want some all-purpose flour, too, so I usually grind some old-fashioned oats in the coffee grinder to replace that.

Buckwheat Groats!

I usually buy the groats in bulk at the expensive healthy food store, (not the health food store, it's a grocery store, but I'm not giving them publicity here).

It just makes for fresher and therefore more full of nutrients flour if you grind it yourself, but if that is a deal breaker for you using buckwheat flour, then go ahead and try it already ground. I have another friend that grinding it herself is the straw that breaks her camel's back, so she buys it as flour.
No judgments here!

My other friend (that gave me the recipes), uses Rapidura in place of sugar, but I haven't found that, yet, and sometimes I use Coconut Sugar instead.

This way of baking gluten-free is much better for you than using recipes (or buying prepackaged junk) that have a lot of starches, like tapioca starch, potato starch, and xantham gum to get them to behave and look like the foods you miss that are made of fluffy white flour. If you want to indulge in them once in a blue moon that's fine, but eating them regularly would just raise your blood sugar. If I search for a gluten-free recipe and it has any of those ingredients, I don't make it. Occasionally, occasionally, I will buy the flour that has those things in it, it's called like gluten-free all purpose flour or something and use that when I want easy substitutions, but not all the time!
Anyway, off my soap box!

Back to last night's cooking adventure... after mixing the above ingredients, I also added a can of pumpkin, because that's what started it all, a kid got the can of pumpkin out of the cabinet and asked, "What's this for?" I told him it was for making muffins.

I also added about half of a brick of cream cheese that had been softening on the table, because we were mixing it with a seaweed salad we had been eating at lunch time. (The seaweed salad was a Costco impulse buy - after tasting a sample, but it was a bit hard on my tongue, so the cream cheese softened the bite.)

Picky Eater #1 refuses to eat pumpkin muffins, so I added two heaping teaspoons of cocoa powder, ha! Fooled him. He couldn't see the orange color of the pumpkin, so he ate them!

I don't usually call my third kid a picky eater, but he's the only one that doesn't like chocolate chips in muffins! The other kids sometimes won't eat pumpkin muffins without chocolate chips, so I usually make kid#3 his own muffin in a four or five inch diameter glass bowl, then add chocolate chips to the rest. And then if I'm really ambitious, I'll reserve some of that batter and add nuts to my own bowl of muffin!

I accidentally forgot to add about a half cup of the buckwheat flour that I left in the coffee grinder and I had already poured the batter into the greased pan. I tried to pour it on and stir it in a little without disturbing the non-stick spray underneath, but that wasn't working very well, so I stopped trying after pouring about half of it in, then I tried to hide my mistake by pouring some chocolate chips on top (I hadn't mixed chocolate chips into the batter), so I left one area without chocolate chips for kid#3.

I also added a couple of tablespoons of Molasses, because that's my new obsession, to put molasses in anything with chocolate chips, it makes chocolate chip cookies extra special!

This post wasn't supposed to be about last night's muffins. I didn't even get a picture of them, because they all got eaten last night! I only got a few nibbles. I thought they turned out kind of wet, probably because I left out some flour, but my husband said they were delicious and they all got eaten, so they must have been.

By the way, I put "muffins" in quotation marks because I don't usually want to bother with making real muffins. I just pour the batter in a cake pan and call it "muffins." I hate scrubbing muffin pans, and worrying about if I have enough paper liners or not. And what is with people who use paper liners and aluminum foil liners on each cupcake? Seems like overkill, but I trust that they are real bakers that know what they are doing.

So, today's "muffins" were inspired by a recipe from Whole Foods for the Whole Family, which is a recipe book made by La Leche League.

The recipe!

I did use 2 C buckwheat flour and the baking soda and powder as described, but I used a full teaspoon of salt.
Even though the recipe doesn't call for eggs, I still added the 2 tablespoons of flax seeds to the coffee-grinder with my buckwheat groats.

Instead of the soy flour, wheat germ and dry milk powder, which together add up to one cup of dry ingredients: I used two packages of instant oatmeal, one each of the Cinnamon Spice and Maple & Brown Sugar flavors (because I had them). I poured them both into a 1 C measuring cup and saw I had a little room left over, so I filled it the rest of the way with old fashioned Oats and blended it in the coffee grinder.
I didn't have any milk, so I used Sour Cream and water instead. I sort of measured a cup and a half.
I did put in the honey and added some molasses to it, eyeballed about 2 tablespoons.
I also added 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder and 1 Cup of chocolate chips, too!
Upon mixing, it looked a little thick, so I added probably about an extra cup of water.

I've been using a slightly lager cake pan than the usual 9x13. Maybe it's 11x14?
That way they aren't so thick and it takes about 25 minutes to cook in my convection oven at 350F.

I'm not the best at food pictures, but here is the finished product!

They were delicious and filling, with a good texture, not too dense, nor too crumbly.

 Documented, so they can be duplicated(!!!), if I happen to have all the same ingredients on hand ever again.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Annual Family Pictures

Time for the annual family picture on the day when we celebrate the baby girl that didn't linger with us.  It's been fifteen years now.

There's usually one that doesn't do it when we say, "Everyone do [this]!"

He got a firm talking to, so in the below picture, everyone was doing pretty much the same thing!

We tried hard to smile with the sun in our eyes.

Moving to where the sun was behind us sure changes the light, but it was easier to keep your eyes open. If the little one was smiling, this would almost be the best picture.

Except I told my hubby that he always puts his head back when he smiles (above), so we all tried to show him how not to do that (below), except for the little one who now has the best smile.

Above is pretty darn good, except for G sticking out her chin.
Yeah, I think the last one is the best overall.

Friday, March 27, 2015


I really think the San Diego Temple is the most beautiful.

We visited it during the day, then went to eat dinner and came back for a couple of night pictures.

It is so beautiful all lit up.

There are most of my kids front and center.

Then, we visited the Los Angeles temple and it is huge!!!

I'd like to go back and go inside both of them, but there just wasn't time on this trip. I know we have to make time! Otherwise it is too easy for time to slip by without visiting the temple. I love these holy places of refuge and worship.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Oatmeal Cookie Bars

...but not sugar free.

These are bars because I was too pressed for time to make individual cookies. I used the recipe on the inside lid of the Quaker Oats canister, "Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies," except I made so many substitutions that my daughter thought I should make a note of what substitutions I made. I was scared that they were going to taste terrible, but they were pretty good!

First the recipe calls for mixing the butter and sugars.
The recipe says, "1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 6 tbsp. butter, softened." I used Coconut Oil instead of the half cup. Then, I tried to figure out what fraction of a cup 6 tablespoons is and it's roughly 1/3, so instead of the extra 6 T. of butter, I used molasses.
I heard it is good for people low on iron, so sometimes I remember to use it in baking. It has a strong smell though, hence part of my nervousness.

The next two ingredients are 3/4 cup of packed brown sugar and 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, I changed the ratios a bit and used 1 whole cup of packed brown sugar and slightly less than 1/4 cup of raw (turbinado) sugar. They were in little packets and I opened 9 of them and they almost filled the one fouth measuring cup. Then you cream the 'butter' and the sugars.

Next you add 2 eggs and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Oops, we didn't have any eggs. Forgot to check for that before starting the recipe. Never fear, the Costco sized bag of Chia Seeds is still in the cabinet! Costco has a good price for a large bag.
Three tablespoons of water (lukewarm) and one tablespoon of chia seeds equals one egg.
So, I doubled that into a little bowl and let it sit while I mixed the dry ingredients in a different bowl.

Next, it calls for 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour. I usually use half rice flour and half corn flour for avoiding wheat. You could also use the more grainy cornmeal, but I would use less of it and not 50/50 with the rice flour. I've had pretty good luck with this substitution, though some things do turn out crumbly.

No substitutions for the 1t. baking soda, 1 t. cinnamon, 1/2 t. salt.
I did add 1/4 t. nutmeg though I didn't actually measure it, just a little sprinkle.

Stirred up the dry ingredients, including the 3 cups of Oats. Then, used the hand-mixer to blend the coconut oil/sugars with the chia seeds and vanilla.
Then, stirred them both together with a spatula. It was looking a little dry and sadly, we didn't have any raisins! One Cup raisins!
But, I had some very ripe bananas, so I put 2 of them in the bowl that had had the dry ingredients and blended them with the hand mixer and stirred that in with the cookie batter. No nuts, sadly, but I split the batter in half and added carob chips to one half.

For my birthday, earlier this year, I bought a bag of carob chips at an upscale grocery store, it cost $7 for the regular sized bag, which is probably 2 cups. I ate them plain a little at a time. They were soooo gooooooood! I hadn't had carob in years. Then, I saw them at the outlet grocery store for $2/bag! I couldn't believe the price difference and I bought five bags. When I got home, I opened one bag to have a little taste and I about gagged, it tasted so bad compared to the more expensive ones. So I haven't used them much, but they tasted good in this recipe. I think I used half a cup, since for the whole batch I would have used a whole cup.

Anyway, that's about it. You can tell from the pictures that I used two round cake pans. No need to grease the pans. For bar cookies, they need to bake about 30-35 min. at 350ºF.

I don't think Picky Eater #1 tasted them, but all the other kids ate them as well as my husband.
I call that a victory.
Here is where you should find the original recipe side by side with the substitutions in a nice recipe looking format, but it's late and I'm going to bed instead. Perhaps later...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

some crafty type stuff

This first craft was a trial run. I want to do this on a canvas, but for the trial run, I glued cutouts from magazine pages onto paper. Then, I made letters out of Post-It Note Correction Tape, so it wasn't very sticky; easy to peel off, but the corners got flubbed. It's also not the easiest to make beautiful letters with, but I didn't want to pay twenty dollars for the professional ones they have at the craft store. So, the real version of this is stalled until I figure out what to do about that. Anyway, black acrylic paint on top of glossy magazine pages might need two coats.

I wanted it to say, "Learning is life," but there wasn't enough room on this page. I like how the word 'for' is half red, half green.

I also wanted to experiment with making a collage from book pages. I picked up The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe at a thrift store for 25¢, but I didn't look in it first and discovered there was so much outlining throughout it, that I couldn't use most of the text. So instead I cut out pictures and just a little bit of text.

As I was doing it, I was wishing I had started in landscape rather than portrait orientation.
Oh well, I like it as a good first effort.

For the next craft, this girl loves dresses to wear to church, not skirts, but it's hard to find dresses long enough. So, we made an up-cycled t-shirt dress. I found the red t-shirt at the thrift store, cut off the bottom hem and attached many other pieces of t-shirts also from the thrift store. So, I'm guessing this dress cost around $10. Not bad.  The t-shirts sat in my closet for a couple months I think before I finally got around to getting the sewing machine out. Now, I want to make one for my smallest girl, too.

I would have started the stripes a little higher on her waist, but she wanted as much of the red shirt as possible.

I added the yellow-orange piece of t-shirt at the collar, because she didn't like how low-cut it was, but now she says it's scratchy, so I'll have to do something about that. 

I think it will fit for a while!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Epiphany Quote by Richard Peck

"In fiction writing, the epiphany is a sudden breakthrough of understanding, of self-awareness. It's that moment of change that changes every moment after. It's the lightbulb switched suddenly on over somebody's head. Novels tell of epiphanies acted upon. A short story tends to turn upon a single epiphany, sometimes in the last line. The change to come is to play out in the reader's mind.
     "In real life we have epiphanies all the time. But we wait for them to go away. Change is too hard, and threatening. That's why we have fiction. Stories are better than real life, or we wouldn't have them. Stories for the young present the metaphor of change upon the page to prepare the readers for the changes coming in their lives. Non-readers will never be ready." - by Richard Peck in Past, Perfect, Present Tense

Thursday, November 14, 2013


From Stake Conference, the Friday night session:

     Sister S. went on a mission with her husband and while they were gone there was a death in the family, two grandkids were born and a grandson left on a mission. She said, "If you are thinking of going on a mission: pray about it, then GO!"

She went visiting teaching with her companion and they went to visit a new sister in the ward. They asked what they could do for her and she said, "Find me a husband," and so they did, and it was wonderful and she was happy.

Sis. S's nine-year-old granddaughter wore a dress with sparkly buttons to school and other kids liked them and pulled them off, but fearful of getting in troubles, threw them on the playground. She went home and asked Grandpa to go back and find them with her. He said the playground was two blocks long and how could she find them? She said, "I prayed, Grandpa!" So, they went. It was a cloudy day, but every time they got near a button, the sun shone down on it. They found all three.

Cherish the role that is uniquely yours.

     Bro. P talked about having a balanced life: Family, Church service, Career/Education, Personal/Hobbies.  When he was trying to figure out how to find balance in his life, he went to the scriptures and studied the lives of Lehi, Noah and Peter... (all people who gave up everything in their lives for church service)... Maybe God doesn't want us to have a balanced life?

But, then he talked about balanced flavors, like that in a chocolate chip cookie: we don't need the exact same amount of every ingredient, like 2 cups of flour, 2 cups of sugar, 2 cups of baking soda, 2 cups of salt, 2 cups of vanilla, 2 cups of chocolate chips; but the right amount of each item makes a delicious cookie.

Don't compare our life to the life of others. Each person's balance is different - we are each our own recipe, our own story. The recipe is always changing.

Sometimes finding balance means sacrificing something good for something that is better, or something better for something that is best. (Here is an excellent talk by Dallin H. Oaks on that subject.)

What is best will change as our family changes. We can start simply, small and simple means bring about great changes. Do what God wants us to do.

Yard by yard, life is hard.
Inch by inch, life's a cinch.

     Pres. E asked, "Are we having fun, yet?" That was a theme for him growing up. He was always looking forward to the next thing. It used to drive his wife a little nuts that he couldn't enjoy whatever stage they or their kids were in at the time, because he was always looking forward to what was next.

In the Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 8 talks about the Tree of Life.  Happiness is something we choose - you have to reach up and take the good fruit.
Someone did him an injustice that day and he wanted to be mad, but he knew he was giving this talk tonight, so he just smiled and he wasn't mad anymore.

Heavenly Father knows you and he loves you; all the heavens and stars and he knows your name.

Charity is having patience with someone who has let you down, including yourself.

When he was in Primary, he was a hooligan eleven-year-old. He and his friend made up rude words to the "Hello" song that is sung to welcome visitors: "Hello, Goodbye, we hope you die and never come back again."   He would climb out the window while his teacher was teaching.

Then, he turned 12 and received the Priesthood. He and his friend were cornered in the bathroom by 2 Priests (Young men that he looked up to), who told them, "You have the Priesthood now. It's time to start acting like it. When you pass the Sacrament, have respect for the Savior."

He talked about other leaders that also had a positive impact on him like those two young men, who helped him grow into a good leader.

When the Savior visited the Nephites, he said, "Thrust your hand into my side." (3 Nephi 11:14)
Pres. E. followed that with "I know a lot of you and have a great love for your, but you haven't touched my side, and I'm not going to let you, but the Savior loves us and had them thrust their hands into his side first and then his hands and feet."

We worship a God who rejoices when we repent. Don't get down on yourself when you make mistakes. Learn from them.

We worship a charitable God who loves us and forgives us and rejoices when we repent.

He said one of the scariest phrases you hear as a kid is, "We need to talk." Sometimes he would use his ominous voice and say to his teenage son, "Son, I want to see you now," his son came he would say, "I just wanted to say, I love you." That is how it will be like at the Judgement bar of God.

Reach up and take the good fruit.