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Love The Rambler








8.09.2014

Alfredo & Country Gravy - MINUS THE CREAM! Cauliflower Sauce !


Photo: Chx Alfredo w garden Tom and CAULIFLOWER sauce NOT cream!! Sooo goodThere are a few of these recipes going around Pinterest and when I saw them I thought "God is a God who answers prayers!"  I mean COME ON!!!?? Supposedly this packs on 50 total calories and under 3 g fat, over the cream sauce of 500 with 30+ g of fat!  
There are just some things in the world you know you will never really get to have too often if you want to be in any decent shape.  I get a little sad around ice-cream, milkshakes, cake, fried chicken, biscuits n gravy, and Alfredo sauce.  I just know its something I can only allow myself to have once in a great while.  This recipe can be made purely vegan or fully dairy free- and is naturally gluten free (cream gravy GF?!?!) . I do however in an attempt to replace Alfredo or an Italian type dish, think the use of a bit of Parmesan tricks the tongue into thinking its a full blown cream sauce, calories and all. Without the sprinkle of Parmesan and the addition of a bit more bullion it then tastes like an amazing cream country gravy.  

 



I used to live on such tempting things when I was under 23 and thin.  But now I know my metabolism can't keep up.  I can't make a habit of such debauchery. But I try my best to find WORTHY substitutions for the palate.  My other issue centers around dairy. I'm not intolerant, but its not good for my skin allergies. So I have to pass on it more than I can enjoy it.  The lactose is nearly gone in cheeses aged over 2 years so from time to time I will allow a nice aged cheddar or Parmesan.


Play around with these and see what suits your fancy! This made enough sauce for me and my kids- you could double for a bigger crowd.  Give it a try all the way to the table because at first I wasn't sold when I just tasted it by itself, but then after the serving of with pasta and biscuits!?  whoo hoo! Happy Girl!

1 lg Head of Cauliflower- steamed until fork tender, not too thick and not too soft

1-2 c. Broth (I love and can't live without 'Better than Bouillon' chicken base- use the veggie if   veganizing- if country gravy I'd make it a bit saltier than the Alfredo version)
1/2 cup Coconut Creamer or Soy Creamer substitute (NOT canned coco milk but unsweetened type for your coffee found in the dairy isles- see below)
5-8 Garlic Cloves (I actually roasted my garlic first and the country gravy option would use 3-5   cloves- I personally like the smokey smooth flavor of roasted garlic but you can raw it if ya like mega garlic or just saute it in a pan before blending)

1T Olive oil 

Salt & Pepper to taste

Chopped fresh parsley

FINELY PUREE ALL OF THESE IN A BLENDER OR FOOD PROCESSOR STARTING WITH HALF THE LIQUIDS, UNTIL SMOOTH CREAMY CONSISTENCY (Remember its easier to thin out this sauce than steam more cauliflower to thicken it- you can add a bit of tofu to this if you want added protein but go easy as tofu can have a sort of interesting after taste with this recipe).

Alfredo:
Finish cooked pasta in this sauce in a pan on med low heat- don't over boil this sauce.  Serve and sprinkle each dish with a few spoon fulls of shredded Parmesan. Delicious with grilled chicken, shrimp, garden tomatoes and basil! If you aren't shy of cheese you could add about a 1/2 cup of shredded cheese directly to the sauce versus controlling the cheese portion per plate like I have to.


Cream Gravy:
Serve over biscuit with breakfast sausage crumbles or meat substitutes. Delicious on mashed potatoes, chicken and anything cream gravy goes with!




 Chicken, Vegetarian, Beef, Shrimp, Mushroom MM!                    Unsweetened Coco Creamer

Church Can Hurt


I wish I could say that church is only all the great things it is. I wish it was only friendships, community, the place I found my husband, missions and all the great things it really is.  But sadly it is more. It is just like real life. Not all its cracked up to be sometimes. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it aches. Sometimes, like in life, it ends.  While it won't wave my belief in Jesus it surely supports my belief we humans are flawed, deeply flawed and in need of great salvation.  I am flawed but sometimes I have hope that others will help me get out of that place.  Others wiser and more mature than I. They do.  And sometimes they don't.

As I read the below blog called "I AM NOT ANONYMOUS" all too many wounds came to the surface.  I have had this (below) happen to me in ministry twice already and I'm only 34.  Its the reason I am not pursuing a career in clergy.  Not to say someday God won't lead me back to church leadership, but for now I just need a break. After all I'm ok wrestling with the fact that many people out in the world are narcissistic, misogynistic, racist, power hungry, self centered, greedy, talk behind your back and are generally super messy people. I love those people thus I love ministry and missions.  But what I'm not in the mood for these days are that Church Leaders are also all these things. And I don't mean as in they have temptations like the rest of us,  but surely not that they condone or model this as legit and moral precedent.   I guess I do hold them to a higher standard. To whom much is given, much is required.  I don't believe they need be perfect, but surely those attributes can't be their main operating system.  Surely it can't be and shouldn't be. And when will they learn they can't hide these? They ooze from their being like stale liquor leaks from the pores of the alcoholic in the morning. Everyone knows, who is close enough to their stench. We are to be the light in the world, at least most of the time.

With time I am sure I will get my hunger back but for now I will teach young children and start my own business. Church on wed and sun will suffice for me. I'll drop my work in the offering bucket and volunteer where I see I'm needed. Bake some cookies maybe, and sing a song.
Take the time to read this below blog, it is very worth the time!

I..AM...NOT...ANONYMOUS






..

7.23.2014

Easy Ice 'Cream' Tart- Dietary Needs friendly!





I will do the following example for the Chocolate Pretzel Almond Ice 'Cream' Tart

Have you ever been asked to bring something or make something dairy free, gluten free, vegan or all of the above?!?!  Well I have...often...so off I went into challenge mode! Kickin wheat & dairy and taking numbers lol!   Here is a very satisfying EASY recipe (because good God have you looked up Gluten and Vegan baking-yikes! Looks like it takes awhile to master!)   This can be whipped up quickly- but take note you need lots of time for chilling so THINK ahead!  This can also easily be modified to a non chocolate flavor profile too if need be- the possibilities are endless!

Ingredients

1 Pint Coconut Ice 'cream' (Chocolate)
1 c gluten free Graham cracker or cookies ( I love the snickerdoodle bunnie grahams)
1 c gluten free pretzels
1/2 cup butter (or for vegan canola butter substitute)

Garnish
about 1/4 cup melted Nutella (I prefer the Justins all natural Hazelnut choc spread)
1/4 c Dark Chocolate Chips (My new fav is the Lily's sweetened w/ stevia!)
1/4 c Sliced or slivered almonds and a few pretzels

This can be made in a pie pan or similar size tart pan- based on it cutting kind of messy I actually think it could be done better in individual tart pans or even muffin tins!



Instructions:
-Allow Icecream to sit on the counter until melted - about an hour and a half, if you're pressed for time you can microwave it in 1 minute increments being careful not to heat it too hot- stir inbetween so some doesn't boil while the center is still hard

-Microwave butter in med bowl 30-45 seconds until fully melted into liquid

-Pulse in a blender or food processor the grahams and pretzels until a grainy corn meal type consistency. I notice GF pretzels are a very hard texture to blend so start with those then add the softer grahams halfway through

-Stir in meal to the melted butter and fully stir around until all the crumbs are coated with butter. If it looks too dry add more melted butter if it looks too wet add more pulsed meal.  The texture it should look like is if you were working with wet sand. You need it wet enough to bind when it chills but not sooo wet it comes out more like chilled butter with crumbs, clear as mud?

-Press wet meal into the bottom of your desired tin/pie pan. You want to use a fist or a rounded small bowl to help push it up the sides of the pan like a pie crust would be. It doesn't have to reach the top top but at least about an inch up the sides. Try to avoid holes or your icecream will melt through the holes.  It should be all even and uniform.

-Put crust in freezer for 5 min- then drizzle the melted Nutella or nut butter on the bottom of the crust so that each piece gets a nice chilled choc layer inbetween the crust!

- Pour melted icecream in the pie crust and smooth out with a serving spoon or spatula so it looks even....Add your garnish on top if it is not damaged by being frozen (for example fruit should wait)

- Put in freezer for an ideal 2-3+ hours until center of pie is firm.

To serve get out of freezer about 5 minutes before serving time. Garnish with additional toppings or fruit! 

OTHER FLAVOR IDEAS!
Salted Caramel & Dark chocolate & Pretzel
Caramel icecream, caramel drizzle, and light salt sprinkle, dark chips
Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana
   Melted PB, choc icecream, sliced bananas & peanuts for garnish
Key Lime
   Lime or coconut icecream, lemon/lime extract, lime zest and limes for garnish
Pina Colada (add mango and call it tropical)
   Coconut icecream, w pineapple chunks, coconut shred/ sliced or grilled pineapple for garnish
Chocolate Covered Strawberries
    Strawberry icecream, choc chips, nutella & choc dipped strawberry slices for garnish
Almond Joy
Same as above but add coconut shreds into icecream and for garnish
Apple Cinnamon Carmel
Cinnamon icecream, melted almond or cashew butter, sauteed green apples in brown sugar and cinnamon in 'butter' and chilled - garnish with caramel & walnuts
Pistachio Peach & Dark Chocolate
Pistachio icecream, melted nutella, dark choc chips in icecream, garnish with fresh peach slices an chopped pistachio nuts
Almond Cherry
Fresh cherry chunks in cherry or vanilla icecream (and add almond extract to melted icecream) almonds and fresh cherries for garnish- maybe dark chips too!
Lemon Blueberry
Lemon Icecream and lemon extract garnish with lemon zest and fresh blueberries!

UMMMMM THE LIST COULD GO ON FOREVER! 







7.22.2014

Finish What I Start---Returning to School After 13 Years


There is also a separate self satisfying piece that is just for you deep in your soul, even if you never get to apply it like you had once hoped. I have really grown into loving the craft of learning. From random philosophical principles to plate tectonics its all so fascinating!   Its funny since I used to hate school, but I guess we all grow out of certain things as we age.  For now I am getting a chance to do something for me. I've given to so many others along the way, sowed into my kids and my family and even my community- but this piece feels so good because its really for me!  I know I can use it for other benefits and service too, but this is sooooo for me baby!   

I accrued a stack of books, all of which were read. Well almost read. I read all but the last two chapters or so.  What's wrong with me?  Was I too board of them? no. Was I in disagreement with all of them? no.  Was I afraid to have them be over? maybe. Did I feel I already 'got the point'? ya.  So I took a few months and literally read a bunch of the ends of all the books I had never finished. I still have a few more to work on.  This is merely symbolic of many things in my life.  I love my excited ADD ambition as I always believe Ignorance on Fire is Better Than Knowledge on Ice.  I've seen so many examples of the latter and I loathe it.  

Working in the various jobs I've had, I've always been surrounded by people who make the money I make- only they carry student loans, and I don't.  That made no sense to me.  It took awhile for me to meet people who inspired me to finish my degree. I love all those around me with degrees but a lot of them weren't using them. So why be indebted to the man? Sometimes it wasn't their fault, but sometimes it was.  What if I made the same mistake? Why spend so much to work in some crappy job?  It never clicked. Until this year.

Last year I registered my tween for her LAST year of middle school! This year I register my teen (yes TEEN!) for high school.  It may sound competitive but OH CRAP! I gotta beat my kid to a degree!!!  It never occurred to me that time would fly soooo fast.  She was just in diapers the other day it seemed.  But I don't need to beat her to a degree just to say 'na na na boo boo!' but rather I need to be more educated than my kid or how else could I lead, help and guide her!??? I wasn't so mad I couldn't do algebra like her, but surely I want her to see me with a cap and gown on.

There have also been a few people in my life that hold their degrees as accomplishments and prized possessions no one can take away from them!  It was always warned to me: "Don't go to school to get a 'good job'" which I never really got. I mean isn't that the point?  Yes and no I suppose. Yes when you are really into a specialized field that absolutely requires it.  No when you are not sure how your future will end up or what you're really passionate for, in that case you are going to school to find yourself and what will eventually fit you best.









6.30.2014

Gyros (From Scratch) No rotisserie required!! & Accompaniments




So I love a show called Restaurant Impossible where a beastly English chef goes in and fixes miserably failing restaurants. I love it but the recipes go by so fast because essentially they just show a quick video collage of him showing the owners and cooks how to add this amazing thing to their menu.  This week he was fixing a terrible Greek restaurant where they were serving something that resembled the carcasses of luncheon meat who had mated with the famous Greek Gyros meat. It was sad really. But chef Awesome to the rescue! So I saw what he did and was shocked it could be done with out the rotisserie or complicated roasty fire spigget thingy!  So while no exact measurements were made I did an experimental run tonight and it was awesome! So here ya go in true Rambler style...uh a recipe-ish:) Supposedly its on his website but in true Rambler style I got impatient looking for it lol

1lb ground lamb
1lb ground 97/3 beef

1/2 minced onion
1 egg

3 T Cardamom
1.5 T Fennel Seed (toast in hot pan a few minutes first)
4 T Salt (I like a lot more but you can always add more, I have issues)
2 T fresh ground pepper
1 T Chimayo Red Chile or similar (For a kick Cayenne could work or even sriracha)
1 T. Smoked Paprika
1. t corriander
2 T dried parsley (if fresh maybe half this)
1/2 c breadcrumbs
1/2 c milk
1/2 water-add only as needed when processing

-two sprigs de stemmed/finely chopped
Fresh Tyme
Fresh Oregano

Again if you are really into spices add more, if not add less!

In large bowl hand moosh and squish until VERY incorporated and mixed well.
You have two options for the next step in the action
Option 1- add all into a food processor with about a half cup of water. Pulse until it looks very fined grained (not like hamburger texture more like baby food almost-when you say ew you are there)
Option 2- If you don't have a food processor use a hand immersion blender to pulse in sections with water until the whole area is really smooth (I just did all these steps in the crock pot before I turned it on to save on the dirty dishes issue)
-worst case you could try a traditional blender but you'd have to do it in small batches and unscrew the bottom each time to scrape out the meat since its so thick. So avoid that option. You could also just enjoy it with the hamburger texture too!

Next pat and form into a small meatloaf like shape for the approx size of your pita bread. I did a mound about 6 inches wide, two inches tall and eight inches long.

I used spray oil in the bottom of my crock pot, just a lil works well. Place mound in the center and sprinkle with more salt- if you want it to taste like the restaurants they use LOTS of salt. Do another spraying of oil and with the lid on let it cook on LOW for about 3-4 hours until tender. He baked it in an oven about 300 for 45 minutes

Slice mound in thin slices and fry each slice in a saute pan with a little more oil.  If you are calorie counting this could be done in a non stick pan with almost no oil or a quick spray. If you like the 'restaurant' style then its really fried in oil for that crispy roasted outside texture.

Serve with warm pita (most restaurants use the extra soft fat white ones), dressed salad mix, sriracha and yogurt tzatziki -Easily made as the roll up sandwich or as a salad- I served it with watermelon salad (see below for recipes)

Tzatziki:
1 C. Greek Yogurt (I like Fage 0% fat its the creamiest)
2 T lemon zest
5 sprigs fresh mint sliced
1/4 cup feta
Fresh parsley
Fresh basil
1/4 cucumber chopped
salt & pepper
-uh combine

Dressed Salad
Lettuce shreds
tomato
cucumber
lemon juice
lil Dijon
salt and pepper
olive oil
-uh chop and whisk oil & lemon, then mix and season

Watermelon Salad-
chopped watermelon
feta
fresh parsley
salt / pepper


UPDATE! Here is his link- basically the same with less seasoning- but he recommends frying up a little bit of the meat for a taste test on the seasoning which would be smart for your palate

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/robert-irvine/gyro1.html




6.24.2014

An Ode to the Last

It seems there are those who savor the best for last or proactively wait just so they can prolong and extend joy. I know the reason I love dessert is because I wait for that sweet dark chocolate conglomerate madness to be the last thing left on my tongue. I know why I love a glass of a deep Cabernet with that dessert as well, hitting all the deep rich cocoa notes.  It seems these days everyone is in such a rush that little is reveled in yet alone noticed.  I find myself uncovering a little piece of heaven in little seemingly meaningless things around me.  It seems like a world has opened up to me that seems so much bigger and brighter than before. I think that maybe it was here all along, maybe my eyes were looking right over it into a dreamy future oasis,while ignoring that which was right in front of me all along. It seems like I'm getting things right this time and I LIKE IT!

I am celebrating my third and last child (as far as I'm concerned thus far;) And I sadly realize the things I may have overlooked with my first and second. Maybe I was so busy and preoccupied with all the hustle and bustle of life that I may have just missed a little bit more than I wish to admit.  There was seemingly more drama and issues to attend to that when I look back I do wish I would of just slowed down a bit to not let a single moment pass me by.  I feel like I am catching up and possible making amends with my new little bundle of joy by reveling in each and every moment. When I feel myself starting to go wharp speed ahead I really snap my self out of it! I have to, I must and I control that. Maybe because I've labeled her the 'last' it has a strong impact on how I perceive these experiences, as the last.

So often in life people live from one complaint to the next gripe and while it may be embedded in our DNA it something that must be battled at every level. There are only going to be so many baby coos, lunch's w/ friends, romantic dinners, family barbecues, kids giggles, teen's bipolar styles, and all the things in life we may just take for granted. We are so often looking and pushing to that next goal accomplished, that next property purchased, the next vacation off somewhere or the next paycheck that we are missing the great here and now. I vow to never live that way again, to never live in such a jailed cage called 'the future'. If always reaching striving and constantly obsessing over the water ahead in the dessert I miss my savored happy moments.

There are and always will be tragedies and issues that raise their evil heads in our lives. I think as I age I am realizing that I am the one that gives them a stage to operate on. I am the one who magnifies, identifies, over estimates and sadly gives them power to control my spirit and my joy. I must take every thought captive and remember who is in control upstairs, who has a plan for me, even through sorrow some day I will look back and see the perspective in which such things happened. Some things may never have an answer or turn out good in general but everything teaches and makes stronger calluses of the will. How oh how did I ever live in such a defensive position awaiting the atrocity that was bound to come my way?

Laughing at a double dating couple at the table next to me makes me smile,  an elderly lady curling her hair at the gym makes me proud of beauty, the bi polar weather of Colorado keeps me on my toes, the smell of fresh baby lotion on squishy cheeks delights my senses, the coffee shared with a friend warms my soul,  the kiss of my loving husband sends a little electricity down my spine and if all the little things in life I have been overlooking all this time can just come front and center to my life, I can gladly say I am grateful and up and until my last breath so shall I be!

6.03.2014

Healthy "Hot Wing" Salad


 I chose Hot Wing Salad as I am always looking for a way to enjoy my favorite flavors responsibly! I want all the comfort and love without all the time paying for my sins at the gym. This recipe is great for a warm summer night and doesn't leave you grease faced and regretful. By grilling the chicken breasts instead of deep frying the fatty wings, down goes the saturated fat clogs.  By soaking the chicken in the hot wing sauce on comes the sloppy spicy bites that feed the ravage wing eater. Sub out the devil's dressing aka Ranch,  with a fat free creamy Greek yogurt variation and you really can't feel bad now. Pair all this up with cool crunchy carrots and celery laden salad and you have a POWER packed winning team! This easily reminds you of any game day of old, minus the guilt. Serve with a half grapefruit juice half beer, for that 'beer & wings' feel. 

4 Lg Grilled Chicken Breast-cubed (can use Rotisserie) 
1/2-3/4 cup of your favorite Buffalo/wing Sauce
1 Cup Fage Fat Free Greek Yogurt 
1/2 cup lowfat Buttermilk
1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch Buttermilk Seasoning
1 Bag Shredded Iceburg Lettuce
1 green onion sliced
4 lg celery stalks sliced
4 lg carrots or 20 small chopped or shredded 
(I prefer chopped for texture) 
*optional
1/4 cup Blue Cheese Crumbles 
1/2 cup Crunchy's (cornflakes crushed, garlic powder, paprika, salt/ pepper, 1 t olive oil stirred in bowl) 

Toss vegetables in large salad bowl, chill.  Soak & chill chicken breast cubes in half of the hot sauce in small bowl. Combine remaining hot sauce, Greek yogurt, and ranch packet in small bowl. Add buttermilk to make your desired 'dressing' consistency.  Salt & Pepper to taste. If you like it spicier add more hot sauce.

The key to this salad is its temperature. Its so satisfying when served very cold, crisp and fresh!  

If you would like some little 'fried chicken' like crunchy's on top simply pan toast for 1-2 minutes the cornflake mixture until toasty but not burned. 

Assemble by laying down your salad first, tossing your dressing in to the salad (I like to shake in a Tupperware w/ lid to ensure everything is coated and less dressing is used), top with saucy chicken, 1 small spoonful of blue cheese crumbles over the top and 1 small spoonful of crunchy's. Keep the hot sauce handy for extra splats if you want the heat to go up!  NOW DIG IN-with your fork, not your face!