Waiting for Spring

I’m all about changing seasons.
Really, I am.
Unfortunately, here in the Midwest, winter seems to last forever. Even if there’s no snow. First it’s cold. Everything turns brown. And we are lucky to have snow covering the ground by Christmas. So by the end of January, most people are sick of the cold and just want Spring to come.
This year it has been cold.
Colder than normal.
Record breaking cold.
Now that we are into March, you can smell the Spring air. The temps are in the 30′s again. It’s practically flip flop weather! (When the 800 feet of snow melts anyway…)
So, in light of Spring, and a family get together, Lemon Meringue Pie has been on my mind.
If you’re anything like me, or just starting out with his whole baking thing, you’re probably thinking “What!?! Lemon meringue pie? Are you nuts? I can to do that.”
But let me tell you. It’s simple.
I promise.
Would I lie to you??

This recipe is an old family favorite and I’ve never had it not turn out (I’ve failed at the meringue a couple times, buts it’s been a whole) So don’t get frustrated, try, try again. I’ve tried other recipes, and they were all horrible. So please take my word when I say, this one is PERFECT.

Lemon Meringue Pie
Recipe from: my Mom (and most likely from her mom, and her mom and her mom… Well, you get the drift)

Basic Pie Crust
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter flavored shortening
Very cold water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in shortening with pastry cutter or fork until crumbly.
Run your water in your sink until very very cold. The colder the better.
Add a little (1 Tbsp at a time, if you want to measure) cold water and stir with fork until it comes together in a ball and pulls away from edge of bowl.
Less is more here. You can always add more water if it’s still crumbly, but you can’t take it back out. If you happen to add touch water and it’s sticky, add some flour.
When ready, sprinkle some flour on your counter too or pastry mat, and roll crust out until big enough for the pie shell you’re using.
Spray your pie shell with non-stick cooking spray. The carefully place the a pie crust in pan. Cut off the excess if you have and seal the edges with a fork or make another pretty pattern. Be sure to press down the dough in the pan so there’s no major bubbles under it. Stab bottoms of crust a few times to avoid more bubbles when you bake it.
Bake for about 10 minutes or just until you can smell it. (Not a burning smell, preferably)

Set aside.

Pie Filling

8-inch
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup water
2 egg yolks
2 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup lemon juice

9-inch
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 cup water
3 egg yolks
3 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup lemon juice

10-inch
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 cups water
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup butter
2/3 cup lemon juice

Mix sugar and cornstarch in medium saucepan. Gradually stir in water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and boils. (This happens VERY quickly)
Boil and stir for 1 minute.
Gradually stir half the mixture into the egg yolks. (do this very careful and stirring right away so the eggs don’t cook) Mix the egg mixture back into the saucepan and boil for 1 minute (2 minutes for a 10-inch pie) stirring constantly.
Remove from heat.
Stir in butter and lemon juice.
Pour into prepared pie crust.

Meringue

8-inch
2 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla

9-inch
3 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
6 Tbsp white sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

10-inch
4 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla

In a clean metal or glass bowl (preferably a stand mixer, but could be done with a hand mixer)
Add egg whites and cream of tartar into bowl. Turn mixer medium-high speed. Mix until egg white are foamy.
Slowly start to add the sugar, one tablespoon and a time, letting is mix in before adding the next one.
The mixture will start to thicken and turn very white. Add the vanilla.
Continue mixing until stuff peaks form.
Spread the meringue over the lemon, sealing the edges to the crust.
Place in oven and cook for 10 minutes or until it turns a delicate brown.
Remove from oven, cool on wire rack, away from a draft.
Enjoy!!!

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Movie Time!

For us, Sunday’s are our ‘down-time’ days. Unless we have something specifically planned, we tend to just hang out at home, as a family in the afternoon and evening. Which also means no fancy dinners coming from this lady. To be honest, take out pizza is a big hit at our place…
But, one of our other favorites is popcorn. And last year sometime, I found a recipe (yes, on Pinterest) for diy kettle corn. If there’s one thing in a sucker for at county fairs and festivals, its kettle corn. The smell is tantalizing. It just begs you to buy the giant (yes, you have to get the giant one) bag and eat bite and sweet and salty bite. Mmmm.
Okay, I won’t torture you any more…

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DIY Kettle Corn

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup popcorn seeds
Salt to taste

In a large pot, heat the oil on medium heat until hot (I don’t have a specific temperature, I just wait til its hot)
Add the popcorn and sugar and quickly stir with a wooden spoon. (or something that can withstand the heat)
Put the cover in and wait to hear a couple pops of the popcorn.
Using hot pads, hold the handles of the pot while also holding the lid on. Shake the pit back and forth a few times and return to heat. Continue to do this until most of the popcorn is popped. Usually when it gets down to a couple pops every few seconds, its done.
Be careful not to burn the sugar. I’ve done that a few too many times and its not yummy when half of it is burnt.
So shaking the pot is very important!

As soon as it’s done popping, carefully pour the popcorn into a large bowl and salt to taste.

Enjoy!

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Gluten Free Banana Bread

It’s been a while since I posted and for that I am so sorry! I feel like I haven’t caught up from being sick over the winter and now I only have less than 10 weeks until my baby boy comes! AHHHHHH!!!!!!

I’m still baking, cooking, and you name it in the kitchen and last week I found the only recipe I’ve made with coconut flour that actually turned out AND tasted good! I know, I as shocked too.

I happened to have a couple bananas that were begging to be baked into something. I thought of making pancakes, or banana cake, or regular banana bread, but I am really trying to cut back on my sugar intake and going completely ‘clean’ again. Cause let’s face it, I have been giving in to my cravings…a lot…and I’ve been craving things like ice cream and oatmeal butterscotch cookies…..

Now I know coconut flour can be expensive and that’s why I’m so worries about baking with it and it not turning out..cause that’ happened one too many times. But for some reason, I had faith in this recipe. And it only uses 1 cup of the flour, so I felt as though I could sacrifice that, and I am SO glad that I did! I even meant to share some with my gluten-intolerant mother-in-law..but the boys and I loved it so much, we ate it all in two days. Next time… next time.

Gluten Free Banana Bread (adapted from Gutsy)

1 cup coconut flour, sifted
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (2-3 bananas)
4 eggs
6 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
5 Tbsp honey
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Lightly oil a bread pan before lining with parchment paper.
Line pan with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, mash the bananas. Add the honey, oil, vanilla, and eggs.
In a small bowl, sift the coconut flour and add baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. (The batter will be VERY thick and will just kind of plop in to the bread pan.)

Pour the batter into your prepared bread pan and spread evenly.
Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Top and edges should be a nice brown color.
Let cool in pan for about 15 minutes.
Place on cooling rack.
You can slice and eat right away!
I ate it with butter, but if you’re going completely clean, just use honey!
You could also add chocolate or carob chips to the batter to add some more texture and flavor. (Yes, I know chocolate chips aren’t clean, but a little won’t hurt, especially if you use a good chocolate brand)

Enjoy!

Gluten Free Pie Crust

My mother-in-law has Celiac’s and has for years. It seems to be a growing trend these days and I, myself, have even had issues with wheat and flour products. I won’t even to begin to tell you the reasons for this, it would take me all day!

Either way, I love to find yummy treats and food to make for her, not to mention, it’s usually healthier for the rest of my family as well.

Well, in honor of Pi Day (Pi=3.14… March 14th is 3/14…you get it, right? Yes, I am that big of a nerd, thanks for my Calc teacher, in high school) I decided to make a pie. A chocolate one, to be exact. I will share that recipe with you as well, but right now, it’s just the crust.

If you’re scared of making gluten free foods, or just starting out, don’t fret. I’ve made many mistakes already with things not tasting good and such. It’s quite sad after you put the money, time and effort into it. But oh well. This one seems to be a winner! (and paired with chocolate or fruit filling…it can’t be bad, right?)

Gluten Free Pie Crust (adapted from Primal Palate)
Yield: make about 1 1/2, 9-inch crusts

2 1/2 cups almond flour (I was a little short so I had to add about a 1/4 cup Bob’s Redmill Gluten Free All Purpose Flour)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup coconut oil, (soft, but not melted. It softens pretty easily when you stir)
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup or honey
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt and baking soda. I found it best to whisk it together
In a small bowl, combine, coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla. Whisk until mostly smooth I had a few chunks of coconut oil that I tried to break up with my fingers.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix. I started out by using a rubber scraper, but eventually had to use my hands. It was pretty sticky at first, but the more I kneaded it, the more pliable and dough like it became. So don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and go at it!
Spray the bottom of a 9 or 10-inch pie pan with non stick cooking spray. Carefully press the dough into the pan and up the sides a bit. (I ended up burning my crust after the filling was in, so don’t press it up too far!) If you have some left over, you can use it in little tart pans for for some mini ‘pies’.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F, and bake crust(s) for 10-15 minutes or until golden. Let cool.
Then add whatever filling you want.

Note: If the pie filling needs to be baked, I would almost suggest not baking the crust until you are ready to bake the filling. Maybe the crust won’t burn as easily then. Or, if you have a crust shield, that would keep the crust from burning after you add the filling to bake as well. 

Enjoy!

DIY Ketchup

Have you ever been making lunch for your kids (or yourself) and realize you’re out of ketchup? I have…a lot. Last time I went grocery shopping, I walked by the ketchup and thought to myself, “We have enough ketchup at home. I don’t need to buy any this time” 

Needless to sayI was wrong.

I did need ketchup. I didn’t buy any. And now my kids are kethcup-less with their chicken nuggets, tater tots, and hot dogs…it’s a sad day at our house when there is not enough ketchup to go around.

Then, one day, it occurred to me. Why don’t I make my own ketchup? DUH!

This was a complete break through for me. And with my pregnancy brain lately…almost everything is a breakthrough for me.

As you may have already guessed, I started Pinterest-ing and found hundreds thousands many recipes for diy ketchup. There’s kinds you can ‘can’ (thought that sentence sounded weird with to ‘can’s in a row..) However, I just wanted something I could whip up and throw in the fridge. 

I looked at a couple that had some weird ingredients and that doesn’t work. I need something that I will always have the ingredients for.

DIY Ketchup (adapted from Basic Ingrdients)
Yield: about 1 1/2 cups

1 (6oz) can tomato paste
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp molasses
2 Tbsp honey
1 cup water (if you want it a little thicker)

In a small/medium bowl, whisk together all in ingredients except water. Slowly add the water while continuing to whisk. It will seem a little lumpy as first, but trust me, it comes together in the end :)

Keep in the fridge for 3-4 weeks. You can use the container you mixed it in (I mixed mine up in a Pyrex), or buy a special squeezy bottle for your ketchup, and even using an empty ketchup bottle from the store would work too!

 

note: I took some pictures with my phone, but it’s not working to upload them on here right now. So you’ll have to take my word for it when I say this ketchup, like the stuff you buy from the store, is red. :)

Easy Pumpkin Muffins

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It may not be fall, but I still love pumpkin! (shocking, I know)

So, this morning I felt like baking some muffins for the kiddos and since my youngest was having a tantrum for and hour in his room, i figured, what the hey, now’s my chance.
Off I went perusing my Clean Eating Pinterest Board.

The first recipe I came across (that I had all the ingredients for) was mine. And it’s good thing I stocked up on pumpkin last fall!!!

These were super easy, grain, egg, and oil free. (if you want them to be gluten free, make sure you buy gluten free oats).

You can really get creative with these muffins too! You could add chocolate chips (yum!), banana, cranberries, raisins, nuts, different yogurt flavors, anything really!

Enjoy!

Pumpkin Muffins (adapted from Spokane Dinner Club)
Yield: 12 muffins

2 1/2 cups oats (instant or regular)
1 cup plain nonfat greek yogurt
1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup add-ins (nuts, raisins, chocolate chips, etc)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with 12 liners, or spray the tin. (I used a silicone pan with spray and it worked perfectly!)

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In a blender or food processor, blend the oats until they look close to a flour texture. Pour into mixing bowl (a kitchen-aid would probly work, I used a regular bowl and a whisk) Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the 1/2 cup of add-ins and mix/whisk together until well blended.
Then add the add-in of your choice.
Divide the batter between your 12 muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Let cool for a few minutes before eating :)

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Catching Up

Wow…it hasn’t even been a whole month since Christmas, but it feels like an eternity!
So much has happened in the past few months and I wanted to fill you in.
It started a couple weeks before Thanksgiving, I found out I was pregnant with baby #3, but only 2 short days later I had a miscarriage. I was glad it happened so early, but it hit me very hard. Thanksgiving was a very hard holiday for me. I started planning for Christmas and got another positive test only a month after my miscarriage and am happy to say that I am pregnant with baby #4! But being pregnant as Christmas was not all fun and games. I was tired and wore myself out baking and cooking and making gifts. And in top of that, I didn’t want eat anything I made, cause I had morning sickness pretty much all the time. That is something I’m still battling.
Then, two weeks ago I got sicl for a day, which messed up the whole week. My hubby then went away for a ‘man camping trip’ and came back with the flu. He was out of service for a week straight. So I spent the whole week cleaning and avoiding him. Plus taking care of our two, very loud and rambunctious boys.
To end it all, my oldest son (almost 4) was sick for a day right after my hubby got better.
It’s been a long couple months and holiday season with many emotional ups and downs. I couldn’t have got through it if it hadn’t been for my Lord Jesus Christ and my friends and family. Seriously, I’ve been through some tough times, but this has beens hard time in my life. And honestly, I don’t think its going to get better any time soon. But I can keep praying.

So, in case you’re wondering if you’ll ever see a recipe on here again. The answer is yes! (oh, did I mention a matchbox car ‘flew’ through our livingroom and made a crack in our computer monitor, so I also dont have access to a computer? Yeah…)

And, if you’re wondering, what I may be craving these days is what you’ll be seeing. Of all things to dislike right now, I dislike chocolate and peanut butter. I know! I must be nuts! 
But all I crave is fresh fruit (mostly berries and citrus), and protein and carbs.
And water is the one thing that usually helps take away any nauseousness I have. Pregnancy is SO weird.

All in all, I feel as though I’m keeping a semi-healthy diet going. Once I’m feeling like moving again, I’m hoping to exercise a little, so when my ‘bean’ comes in August, it will be a little easier the squeeze back into some old clothes for the end of summer. Hey, a girl can dream, right?

Thank you all for being so patient with me all this time. Once I have a working compute again, I’ll be able to post more again! And I hope that’s soon. Cause I have some fun cakes coming up in the next few months too!

God Bless!