Monday, December 16, 2013

Spicy Gingerbread Cookies


Do you have the Christmas Spirit yet?  I definitely caught it this past week.  We did so many Christmas/Advent things it was crazy!

I went caroling at an old folks home with some friends and it was amazing.  We went right when the residents were all getting into bed so it was soothing and magical to be walking through the halls as they prepared to go to sleep - almost seemed as if we were singing lullabies to them.  I was fortunate to be surrounded by really good singers and the acoustics were incredible in the hallways.  We stopped in a few rooms and wished them Merry Christmas and took song requests - glad to see Silent Night is still the most popular carol and not Jingle bells.  They all smiled so sweetly as we sang to them, and many of them shed a few tears.  It was truly beautiful!  I love old people!!!


You know what old people love?  GINGER COOKIES!!  

Ginger is a new flavor to me.  Most of my life I tried avoiding it - really though it was super nasty.  Then one day my brother in law gave me a ginger people ginger chew candy...I almost spit it out in disgust but kept chewing hoping it would get better.  It didn't.  So I ate another one hoping this ginger flavor would grow on me - and guess what?  It worked!  I just kept eating ginger chews, then added it to my meals, drank ginger tea when I was sick, and now we have a very loving and supportive relationship.

We had a cookie decorating party this weekend and I decided to make some gingerbread men since those were my most favorite cookies to decorate when I worked at the bakery - they were just so cute and so darn simple!  I have tried many gingerbread cookie recipes but hadn't found the one yet - until now!  I should have know better and checked with Martha Stewart in the first place, but I didn't...shame on me...I know she is probably crazy, and she committed a crime - but hey - she did her time, and she really is insanely talented if you ask me.  Anywho - this recipe is a winner because it is spicy!  I feel like many of the gingerbread cookies I have tried are just weak in flavor - it is as if they are trying not to go overboard so instead they aim way under and don't add enough ginger or molasses.  These guys are different - they are dark, they are crisp, they are perfectly Christmasy in the way they should be.

I think my Scandinavian ancestors would be proud knowing that I now love gingerbread...I am really tempted to braid my hair now and wear clogs...I realize this is combining many cultures that I may or may not be a descendant of but it doesn't matter - it is Christmas - anything goes!


Ready to decorate cookies!
Do you like how our table is wrapped with wrapping paper - a great way to add color to your Christmas party - this was my Mom's idea and we do it for lots of our parties!


Look I made a little demo video for rolling out gingerbread cookies!

Spicy Gingerbread Cookies
Barely adapted from Martha Stewart and Smitten Kitchen


6 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon finely ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 cup (2 sticks or 1/2 pound) unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup unsulfured molasses


Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt in a large bowl and set aside. Beat butter and brown sugar together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy. Mix in eggs and molasses. Add flour mixture, mixing on low until just combined. Divide dough into thirds and wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until cold and firm, about one hour or up to two days.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface to a 1/4-inch thick. Cut into shapes of your choice, such as snowflakes* or gingerbread men. Spread two inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

Bake cookies until crisp but not dark, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.
When cool, you can decorate the cookies with icing and sprinkles.



Make these cookies, go visit an elderly person and bring them these cookies, and then make sure you take the time to find and see the Christmas spirit this year!

Eat your heart out,

Dagny

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Fieldings Wood Grill, The Woodlands, TX

Last night was absolutely dreary.  It was cold, it was wet, it was dark.  Oh how we just wanted to 

call it a night in, but our stomachs disagreed and we decided to venture out and get some 

grub.  I kept hearing about this new place in the Woodlands a lot recently and decided it was 

time we checked it out.




It was so dang good!  Fielding's uses super high quality ingredients and they make everything 

in house and from scratch - including the pickles and buns!  This is their description from their 

website:


"We use only 100% Black Angus natural beef from 44 Farms, grind our meat twice daily, and make our own bacon, sauces, sides, and buns - yes, we even have a gluten free bun from our in-house bakery. We make milk shakes from scratch, using milk from Mill King Dairy. Virtually all our stuff is local, natural, hormone and antibiotic free."
The restaurant itself is hip with the nice wood tones meets metal urban look.  It also had a sweet Ipad bar with a whole row of Ipads for their customers to use.  The bar looked pretty awesome too, but we sat on the opposite end of the restaurant.  I also really liked how their kitchen was totally open and had windows all around so the customers could see how their food was prepared.  Added bonus for a foodie like myself!  They also had a locker or meat dry aging - it looked awesome.  

The service was very accommodating.  We were greeted promptly - actually more than promptly - there was a hostess who saw us even before we entered the restaurant and she grabbed 2 menus and was ready to go even before we walked through the door.  Our server was very sweet and took the time to tell us about the restaurant and all the specials they had.  
We were both super impressed with our food and are planning to go back soon for brunch!  Andrew got their bison chili with a house made biscuit - it was super meaty and the perfect amount of spice, and the biscuit was tender and delicious!  I got the Wood Grill burger...it was sublime!  The milk bun was so soft and the perfect size - I can't stand when the bun over powers the meat in size - drives me bananas.  The bread and butter pickles were nice and light, perfectly seasoned.  The meat was cooked to medium degree and it was so moist.  They also topped the burger with a stack of grilled onions which really added that extra layer of flavor that put this burger over the top for me.  One of the best burgers I have ever eaten!  Andrew loved it too!  We also got their Baked potato french fries - it was a baked potato that they cut up into wedges and fried, then coated them in a nice layer of crunchy salt.  They were uber good.  They also had a whole list of sauce options to go with the fries but we stuck with the ketchup - next time I will try one of their house made sauces.  We were really quite satisfied after the meal, but our sweet teeth couldn't walk away from their broken pecan jar dessert with house made ice cream.  It was basically warm pecan pie in a jar.  The only thing wrong with this dessert was that their wasn't more of it!  We are not ashamed to say we licked our spoons clean on this one. 
We went home with full and happy bellies and are happy to have found a new restaurant to add to our rotation.  
Welcome to The Woodlands - Fieldings Wood Grill! 
Happy eating!




Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Chocolate Cranberry Cake



I know that Thanksgiving is a pie holiday, but frankly I just didn't have the patience to make a pie.  I wanted something quick, yummy, and with some element of Thanksgiving in it.  My Mom has been buying these chocolate covered goji berries recently and I really wanted to capture that lovely tart meets sweet element in a cake with cranberries instead of goji berries.  I was happy to see there were many options on the internet for cranberry chocolate cakes.  I decided to go with this recipe since it didn't call for milk and a certain someone in my life can't do the whole milk thing.  If you want to go ahead and make this cake 100% dairy free you can swap out coconut oil for the butter.
I made this cake for my Church Young Adult Group Thanksgiving potluck this weekend.  We feasted on exceptional food and enjoyed each others company.  I sure do love all the get together's that happen during the Holiday season. : )  This cake was a big hit and I was barely able to sneak away an extra piece for my Monday lunch dessert...sure glad I did though because the cake tastes even better today!

Chocolate Cranberry Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Adapted from Moosewood Cookbook New Classics
Makes 1 8-inch cake
1 1/2 cups flour (you can use all white, or half whole-wheat pastry and half white)
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola, safflower, or vegetable oil
1 cup chilled brewed coffee
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 cup cranberries tossed with 2 tablespoons sugar
Chocolate Icing (recipe follows)
Preheat over to 375°F. Oil an 8-inch cake pan, then dust with cocoa powder - not flour. 
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Whisk together to break up any clumps in the cocoa.
In a second medium bowl, combine the oil, coffee, and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix together until smooth. Stir in the cranberries.
Add the vinegar and stir – you’ll see light swirls of fizz form as the vinegar and baking soda react. Immediately, pour the batter into the pan. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Take the cake out of the oven and cool 15 minutes then Remove from pan.  When cool, frost with the chocolate glaze.
Glaze
6 ounce(s) quality semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 stick(s) (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon(s) light corn syrup
1 tablespoon(s) orange liqueur or dark rum




HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Dairy Free Zuppa Toscana Soup


I rarely eat at Olive Garden, but when I do - I order Zuppa Toscana.

Isn't that such a fun name to say?  "Zuppa Toscana" this translates into "Tuscany Soup"

The cold weather is finally here.  It arrived last night.  I got home from work and all I wanted to do was make soup.  So I made the world's fastest chicken soup...seriously...it was fast.  Now I want to plan my weekly schedule around when I can make soup.  Soup is good, it is true, and it is beautiful.  I think I love the cold weather solely because I get to make and eat more soup.

I try not to eat dairy, and some of my people don't eat dairy either - so I made this dairy free by using coconut milk instead of heavy cream/milk.  If you love dairy and can eat it by all means use heavy cream/milk/ or half and half.


Zuppa Toscana

1 pound ground Italian Sausage
1 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
4 slices bacon chopped
1 large onion, diced
1 TBS minced garlic
64 ounces chicken broth
8 small red potatoes sliced in half, then sliced thin
1 cup canned coconut milk
1 Large bunch of Kale - cleaned, stems removed, and chopped

In large stock pot cook the Italian sausage and chili flakes until browned and no longer pink.  Remove from pan, drain, and set aside.  Cook the bacon in the same pan until crisp.  Drain off some of the fat - not all of it!  Add the onions and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes of medium/high heat - stirring every once in a while.

Pour the broth over the bacon/onion bring to a boil.  Add the potatoes and boil until tender.  Reduce heat and add in the coconut milk and sausage.  Add the Kale and cook for a few minutes.  I like my kale crisp so I only cook it for a minute or 2.



Monday, November 11, 2013

Down House Coffee Bar and Restaurant, Houston, TX

photo from the Down House website
This weekend was one of the first "free" weekends we had in a long time!  It was so nice to not have any plans!  We had a totally chill weekend and it was great.  We ended the weekend by going to get dinner in the Heights at this wonderful place called Down House.  For some reason all I have been craving recently was a burger, so I looked up a list of Houston's best burger places and this place popped up.  The menu caught my eye and Andrew's - so we decided to give it a try.


The restaurant itself was chill, low lighting inside, great porch outside with lovely green plants all around.  Totally a hipster feel to the whole place...which usually means good food is sure to follow. : )  We were greeted promptly by a very friendly staff and opted for porch seating since the weather was perfect!

Andrew decided to be adventurous and tried a strange cocktail that was recommended by the waiter...can't remember the name, but it had gin, and mint in it.  I took one sip and decided it tasted like Lysol.  Yuck.  Then again, I am the last person you want giving you drink recommendations since I don't really drink alcohol...pretty sure people who like Gin would like it though.   I am recently on a Ginger Beer kick, and was so happy to see they made their own Ginger Beer!  It was so light and refreshing.


Their menu had some Asian, Mexican, and Mediterranean fusions, but the underlying theme was home cooked - old school - deliciousness.  We were tempted by the other menu options like these:  

  • Little Gem Salad with Cherry Tomatoes, Chevre, Spicy Walnuts, Mustard Vinaigrette 
  • Fried Risotto, Butternut Squash, Crispy Okra, Grapes, Arugula, Baba Ghanoush 
  • Shrimp and Grits, Poached Gulf Shrimp, Pho Broth, Bacon, Cilantro, Green Onions, Anson Mills Grits 

We decided to stick to the plan and ordered the Lonestar Burger with a side salad and the Kimchi Burger 
with fries.



We were not disappointed.  

The Challah bun was soft and slightly sweet - they try to get their ingredients local - and the bread was from 
Slow Dough Bread Company.

The sharp white cheddar cheese was from Dairymaids.  The Heirloom tomato was thick and hearty, and the 
lettuce in my salad was so tender and light - so fresh!  The meat was cooked perfectly and the lovely meat 
juices tasted so good soaked up into the bread.


  • The Kimchi Burger was different, but good!  The best part was the perfectly cooked sunny side up egg...the waiter suggested flipping it over and cracking the yolk over the kimchi.  Yum.  The fries were nice russet potatoes, very earthy and perfectly cooked.


    We were tempted to try their bread pudding and warm chocolate chip cookies, but we had crave cupcakes waiting in the car for us.

    Overall we both really liked the restaurant and want to go back and try their brunch out.  The prices were slightly higher than other burger places, but for the high quality of the ingredients - $15/burger was definitely worth it.  The service was great, and our waiter was very helpful and you could tell he wanted us to really enjoy our dining experience.

    My favorite part was they brought us our check in a book - yes, an actual book.  Now the book choice wasn't my favorite - some weird Darwin book, but you have to love the creative idea even if you don't like the book. : )

    Nice job Down House...If I had 5 stars to give you - you would have them.  You just gained 2 new happy customers : )

    photo from the Down House website

    If you are in the Heights stop by and enjoy a delicious meal!
    1801 YALE STREET  HOUSTON, TX 77008


        

Friday, November 1, 2013

Pumpkin Cupcakes topped with Heath Bar Crumbles


4th Pumpkin Post in a row!  I am on a roll.

If you are batty and do not like pumpkin than I think you might be in the wrong place.

I just heard on the radio that on Halloween the average kid consumes between 3,500-7,000 calories!  Holy moley - that is sick!  My daily calorie intake is usually less than 1,300 - so to me that is insanely ridiculous!  I definitely went overboard on my calories yesterday seeing as I made these delicious cupcakes and had to eat 2 of them!  So worth it!

I celebrated Halloween last weekend with a pirate themed mystery party.  It was super fun.  I looked like a pirate and sounded Irish/Scottish/Countryish...it was epic.  People kept asking me if I was Johnny Depp or Jack Sparrow...um no...I am his distant cousin Sharktooth Brandy.  Obviously.

Me and me handsome Sea Captain : )

My niece stuck with her plan B and dressed up like the Queen of hearts.  Her costume turned out better than I thought it would...always happy when that happens.  Amazing what you can do with some safety pins, and a glue gun!  Now all we have to do is work on her posing skills : )


Do you know what the day after Halloween is?  All Saint's Day!  This is a day set aside to honor all the Saints that have gone before us.  Growing up we didn't have a tv - so instead we read piles and piles of books.  2 of my favorite books were the "sixty saints for girls" and "sixty saints for boys" books.  They were fun and easy to read.  I think I read those books a million times!!!  I looked them up on Amazon and they are out of print and mucho expensive.  As kids Saints were always described to me as being heroes.  They would always do the impossible, and always stood up for their faith.  If only I could be as brave as they were!


Today most kids look up to role models like Miley Cyrus, Justin Beiber, or any Disney show character.  Personally I don't think it is good to have role models like that.  How awesome it would be if we started giving our kids good role models to look up to that have strong Faith and love as their grounding characteristics?  It would be saweet!  Anyways, I need to go find these books again and give them to my niece to read.

Cupcakes.  Oh yeah, that is what you are looking for.  I have stalled long enough...I now present to you...PUMPKIN CUPCAKES!


Pumpkin Cupcakes
barely adapted from Ina Garten

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup canned pumpkin purée (8 ounces), not pie filling
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup coarsely chopped Heath bars, for serving (2 1.4-ounce bars)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12 count muffin pan or put cupcake liners into pan.
Into a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. In a larger bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin purée, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vegetable oil. Add the flour mixture and stir until combined.
Divide the batter among the prepared tins and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool completely.
Spread the cupcakes with the Maple Frosting and sprinkle with the chopped Heath toffee bits.


Maple Frosting


6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon Maple Syrup
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese and butter on low speed until smooth. Stir in the maple syrup and vanilla extract. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth.



Make these cupcakes, sit down with a cup of tea, and read a story about one of the Saints.  
Pray that maybe you too could have the strength and courage to be a Saint!

Eat your heart out,

Dagny



Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pumpkin Harvest Bundt Cake




Harvest.  Ahh, what an abundant word.  Whenever I hear this word I imagine myself dancing in a golden field on a cool autumn day, eating cake, wearing sweatpants, and listening to Coldplay or Mumford and Sons.

I also think of wheat, and baking, and delicious tasting things that all make my jeans fit wayyy too tight...which is why I am wearing sweat pants in this perfect Fall dream scenario...come on, you know you would too!

This cake is quasi bad for your "pants too snug on my belly" body...but please note, it is also quasi good for your "my belly is so happy right now" body.

What goes into this cake you may ask...well, to be Frank - everything!  Which is why it is so darn delectable!  As you well know by now I really like texture and flavor layers in my baked goods - this is one of those recipes that really does nail this on both accounts.  Boom.

Did I tell you we are hosting another mystery dinner party this year?  It is super fun.  You should host one too!  Last year we did a fairy tale character theme, this year we are doing a pirate theme.  Arg.  Working on my costume is always fun - it starts out a big mess, but then somehow it comes together.  I got sick of all the store bought costumes just being "sexy" options...please...no thank you.  I decided to make my pirate costume look sort of like this one:


Please note - it is not sexy, and yes, I plan on looking like a 5 year old girl for Halloween.  Haha - no.


 Look lovely Fall leaves my friend from Minnesota sent me!  I am so happy to see these!

Fall wreath I made...and yes, I am just sharing all my pictures having to do with Fall in this post.

Okay, would you like to make this cake now?  Is is so moist...can you see that?  I need to make this one again - and soon!  Is it okay to leave work early to go home and make a cake?  I think most bosses would approve of this as long as they get a piece of cake out of it.  Can you imagine how nice all the bosses in the world would be if they were given good cakes like this one?  
You should make it for your boss and thank me later.


Pumpkin Harvest Cake
a recipe contrived by me and my imagination

Whisk together the below ingredients in a bowl until combined:

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup oat flour - just grind up oats in a blender or food processor until fine to get this
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Then add the following and mix to combine:

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut - toast it first if you want more flavor!
1/2 cup raisins
1 large apples peeled and cut into chunks - I used 2 small ones
2 cups grated carrots - I grated mine using the food processor
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts - toasted for more flavor

In separate bowl whisk together these ingredients then add to the above bowl:

1 cup pumpkin - not the pumpkin pie mix stuff but straight up pumpkin
3 large eggs
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup buttermilk - I used almond milk and a tsp of lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract

Stir just until combined.  Pour into a large bundt pan, a 13x9 cake pan, or muffin tin!  Bake at 350 degrees until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool 15 minutes before removing from pan.

Bundt pan: bake 45-50 minutes
13x9 pan: bake 30-35 minutes
Muffins:  bake 12-15 minutes

Go outside and enjoy the glorious Fall weather, then bake this cake and give it to your boss.

Eat your heart out,

Dagny




Monday, October 14, 2013

Gluten free.Dairy Free.Refined sugar free Pumpkin Bars


Pretty sure when you read the title you said to yourself "nasty".

Usually I would agree with you, but somehow these bars work and I like them!  Be warned - they may not have dairy, sugar, or flour - but they are filling and high in good fats...so still eat in moderation even though they are semi "healthy".

Is October all about Halloween for you?  How do you celebrate Halloween?  Growing up we were never allowed to participate in the "creepy ghoulish" side of Halloween.  Instead we dressed up like the Holy Family, angels, clowns, princesses, and more often then not just a soccer player since we all had our team jerseys already on and forgot to plan out a costume.  Halloween was about dressing up, eating candy, and baking for us.  I know some of my siblings didn't like that my Mom wouldn't let us dress up like witches and ghosts, but it never bothered me.  Creepy things scare the heart out of me!!!  I still remember not being able to sleep for weeks after watching that horrific movie "7".  I still have occasional nightmares about it, and I watched that 13 years ago!


Every family is so different in the way they celebrate Halloween - it is crazy! I really like the fun and creative aspect of Halloween.  It is always entertaining when people dress up and pretend to be something other than themselves.

I also think that there is definitely evil in the world.  I think it surrounds us every single day.  Every day is a battle of good vs. evil, and personally I want the good to win always...which in the end it does.  I know that Halloween is just one day every year, but I don't want to intentionally seek out scary images or experiences.  I never have understood how any good can come from watching movies with extreme gore and violence in them.  Life is crazy enough on its own and I have enough thoughts in my head that I don't need dark ones like that making their way into my brain...yuck.  So, I will continue being a big baby and instead of being surrounded by blood and guts on Halloween I will most likely be surrounded by friends, pumpkin pie, and a feel good movie.

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it".
John 1:5

Make these bars, feel good about a healthy treat, spread the light this Halloween, 
and...

Eat your heart out,

Dagny


Grain-Free Pumpkin Bars
BY: Detoxinista.com, adapted slightly

  • ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup almond butter
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease an 8″ x 8″ pan generously with coconut oil or butter.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl, and mix well until a smooth batter forms.
  3. Transfer the batter to the greased pan, and bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and the center is firm.
  4. Allow to cool a few minutes then spread the glaze on top. 

I only made 1/2 the recipe below of the glaze and poured it onto the bars while they were still warm.

Maple Nut Glaze

3/4 cup pecans, almonds, or walnuts
1/4 cup Maple syrup
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Combine all of the ingredients in a high-speed blender, and blend until smooth and creamy.

See the recipe here at Detoxinista.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Pumpkin Gingerbread Pancakes...aka discs of Fall Glory!


Please note - that is actually Maple Cream and not butter - thanks to KO for sending some for us!!

Shazam!  Boom!  Seriously yo - overnight it finally became Fall in Texas!!!!  I am joyous beyond belief!!!  The Fall weather makes me happy - happy - happy!  Yes, happy to the third power - that is how awesome Fall is!

Like everyone else in the world I am obsessed with Pumpkin everything right now!  I started off with Pumpkin blondies - fail.  Moved on to Pumpkin granola - fail.  Then there was Pumpkin cornbread - fail.  Arg - I was getting pretty frustrated with all of these failed attempts at making yummy Pumpkin things.  Then all of a sudden things clicked and I finally found 2 pumpkin recipes that met my lofty arrogant standards, and tasted great too!  Score!  Today I will share with you this lovely Pumpkin Gingerbread pancake recipe and next I will share with you a delightfully moist Pumpkin Harvest bread recipe.

I don't know about you, but Fall motivates me to get more accomplished each day.  I seem to have all this hidden energy that lays dormant all summer long - then as soon as a breeze appears I wake up and start crossing things off my to do list.  Dang it - I kind of sound like a bear - don't I?  I am sure my family would not argue against this.



I do miss my East Coast Falls - Texas Falls just don't really compare at all.  It does stay warmer longer though - so we have more weekends we can camp, and be outside all day - opposed to the freezing Fall weather up North.

My niece and I worked on her Halloween costume this weekend - it is our thing.  She is growing up so fast - not too sure how many more years we will have to make a costume!  For the last few years we have come up with her costume ideas and made them together.  Last year she was the Mad Hatter and wanted to stick with the Alice in Wonderland theme and be the Queen of Hearts this year.  We also debated some of the below options...

Minions from Despicable me : )

Cute Owl!

This is what we are aiming for...lets see how close we get to this actual look!

And now for the Pancakes...I made some extra and hid  them in the fridge for work on Monday - but my sneaky little brother somehow found them and ate them all up on Sunday...darn him.  One of these days I am going to buy a box and lock up the things I don't want people in the house to eat - or, I guess I could just grow up, get my own house and fridge : )  

Pumpkin Gingerbread Pancakes

1 1/4 cups ground oats (the old fashioned kind ground up in a food processor or blender)
1 cup flour (I used all purpose but you can you wheat, or a gluten free substitue)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 1/3 cups pumpkin
2 TBS molasses (or extra maple if you don't have molasses)
1 TBS maple syrup
2 cups milk (I used almond, but you can use rice, coconut, cow's, or goat's milk)
1 tsp vanilla
Mix dry ingredients together in medium bowl.  Then add the wet and mix to combine.  Spoon onto well oiled griddle or skillet and cook on one side until bubbles form - then flip and cook until golden.
Serve with warm maple syrup, butter, and chopped pecans.


Why I like this recipe?  It has texture - from the oats.  It has layers of flavor - from the molasses and spices.  It tastes like FALL!

Wake up early on a Saturday morning - go on a Fall hike - come home and make these pancakes!

Eat your heart out,

Dagny











Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Simple Sauteed Okra


Okra is weird.

When I was a kid I would eat around it in the many bowls of gumbo I consumed.  Those little pearly balls from the inside of it drove me bananas as they seemed to multiply and be everywhere!

Now I think okra is divine.

Guess all those years of education worked and all those light bulbs finally went on in my head.

I bought a big bag of them at the local farmers market this week with the intention of cooking them all at once and eating them with lunch the rest of the week.  Like most well thought out plans of mine this did not happen.  Apparently my whole family loves okra!  When did that happen?  I cooked the okra.  The family saw the okra.  The family demolished the okra.  darn it all.

Fun facts about Okra:

1.  In some countries they refer to okra as "ladies fingers" ...kind of creepy sounding to me...
2.  It is said to have originated in these regions:  South Asia, Ethiopia, and West Africa.
3.  Okra is healthy!  It is high in fiber, vitamin C, calcium, potassium, and antioxidants.
4.  Okra is used to thicken soups - that slimy matter that comes from the seeds is the thickening agent.
5.  In the 1800's slaves would use Ground okra seeds as a coffee substitute

What you are getting for Christmas from me : )

Sauteed Okra

2 cartons of fresh okra (about 5 cups chopped up)
4 slices of bacon
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper

Rinse the okra.  Cut off the tops.  Then slices into disc chunks.  Chop bacon slices into pieces.  Place the bacon in a large frying pan and cook until cooked.  Then add the okra and olive oil to the pan.  Saute over medium high heat for 3-4 minutes stirring every once in a while.  Add the water and cover pan.  Cook for 2-3 minutes over medium heat until water is gone.  Once okra is tender season with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper.



Did you hear the awesome news?  
        FALL IS HERE!!!!         

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting


Sometimes when you bite into sweet things and see the color green it can be a bad thing...a very bad thing indeed.

Sometimes you can bite into a sweet treat and seeing green is an awesome, super awesome thing!  This is one of those times!  This cake has 3 cups of zucchini in it!  In my book that makes it a vegetable more than  a dessert. : )  I made this cake for a work function and nobody even noticed there was zucchini in it!  Look at the picture above...can you see the greeness?  Nope.  Wow, chocolate sure is awesome!  Zucchini is super wet so it helps make this an incredibly moist cake...no seriously, it is really moist.

I am about to head out on a road trip with the baby sister to bring her back to college in Florida.  Hum, road trip anyone?  I have done a pretty decent job at avoiding road trips over the last year, so I guess I am due for one.  18 hours in the car...yikes a what?  Guess this is our last hurrah as two unmarried sisters driving across many States together.  She gets married next summer so this will never happen again!  I tried my hardest to get out of it, but my other little sister has flown and driven with me so many times when I moved that I figured it was my turn to drive a sibling super far away.

When I moved from California back to Texas my little sister flew from TX to Cali to drive with me.  It was a crazy road trip.  At one point we were in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night with no cell phone reception, and realized we were completely out of gas!  We drove slowly and with the windows down, a/c off, praying the Rosary for about 30 minutes and literally rolled into this little gas station.  Scariest thing ever.  Now I pay attention to the gas levels while road tripping...and hopefully this trip is super uneventful!


  • Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
  • adapted slightly from the King Arthur recipe

  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, buttermilk, or yogurt
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder, instant coffee, or finely ground coffee  (optional but tasty)
  • 3 cups shredded zucchini - I shredded mine in my food processor
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan.
In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, oil, sugar, vanilla, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until smooth.
Beat in the eggs.
Stir in the sour cream, buttermilk, or yogurt alternately with the flour.
Add the cocoa and espresso powder, mixing until smooth.
Fold in the zucchini and 1/2 cup chocolate chips - mix until smooth. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top springs back lightly when touched, and it seems set.
Remove from oven and allow cake to cool completely.

Make cream cheese frosting and spread over cake.
6 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 # powdered sugar, which is about 1 3/4 cup
Cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth - about 30-40 seconds.  Add sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth.  Spread over cooled cake.  Store in the fridge.

Make this cake, put gas in your car, pray that my sister and I have safe travels, and listen to this song:


Eat your heart out,

Dagny