Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Chocolate Zucchini Bread - Grain Free

This recipe was a delicious adventure into grain free baking and it turned out great.  I am still not used to the way breads "don't rise" - but I am working on getting the best results I can - and accepting this "new normal".  The rich taste makes up for the fact that it looks different than my baking used to - but that's ok.


adapted from The Healthy Coconut Flour Cookbook

2 c. grated zucchini, peeled (peeling is optional)
4 eggs
2 T. coconut oil
1/3 c. maple syrup (Grade B)
2 t. vanilla extract
1/3 c. coconut flour
1/4 c. cacao powder
1/2 t. salt
1/3 c. dark chocolate chips (I like to use the Enjoy Life brand - also love Ghirardelli or Guittard)
1-2  T. dark chocolate chips (for top of bread)

Preheat the oven to 350. 

Grease a medium loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.  Dust the sides of the pan with coconut flour.

Place the shredded zucchini in between several layers of paper towels or roll it up in a dish towel and wring out the excess moisture.

In a food processor or mixer, combine the zucchini, eggs, oil, maple syrup, and vanilla.  Add the flour, cacao powder, baking soda and salt and stir until well blended.  Let the batter rest for a few minutes.

Ready for the oven with extra chocolate chips on top!

Then mix in chocolate chips and pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan** (I like to sprinkle 1-2 T. chocolate chips on top for a little extra goodness and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.

Store covered at room temperature for several days or in the refrigerator for a few weeks.  It also freezes well.


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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day

First of all, I want to wish the happiest Mother's Day to my daughter, daughter in law and so many dear friends.  Even though we all know that EVERY day should be Mother's Day :), I hope today was extra special for all of the amazing mothers I have been blessed to know along the way, especially my own mother and grandmothers.  

Continuing my preoccupation with foiling (sorry -I just cannot get enough of it!), the card above was a traced stencil, scanned and printed and foiled with watercolor Decofoil. I love all of the beautiful shades in the watercolor foil.  The foiled image was cut on the Silver Bullet Professional using the print and cut method in SCAL, as was the foiled greeting tag that was threaded on the ribbon.  The tag was printed on a 3M transparency and ran through the FoilMaster with ease.  Assorted sequins and beads were added (see pics below) to give it some added interest.  

You can see the print and cut layout - above and the result below...

A perfect cut thanks to the Silver Bullet and SCAL software.

And again, the transparency foiled and then cut.  I placed small pieces of
                         removable tape behind the registration marks to make them easy to see 
when doing the laser registration.



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Friday, May 12, 2017

Birthdays and Celebrations!

It seems like I have been making a lot of get well and sympathy cards of late.  So it was a nice respite to be able to make two celebratory cards today - one planned and one unexpected - more on that later!

First up is a card for my oldest son.  It is so hard to believe that Scott is now 42.  Yikes!  We celebrated with a brunch down here a few weeks ago,  which was a win-win for me. I not only got to have a little extra time with my son, but he is part of a package deal (!), so I could also enjoy time with my daughter in law and precious grandson as well.  I felt like I was the one getting presents - so thrilled to have the gift of time with those I love.  I really cherish(ed) every minute.

I have been doing a lot of foiling and Scott's card was no different.

The dotted images was printed on a laser printer and foiled with
rainbow foil.  The greeting is from Gina K Designs.

You can see the dimension of the card here. 

I also had the opportunity to make a card for an amazing young woman.  I spend some of my free time volunteering for the Oceanside Boys & Girls Club and serve on the board.  I love the programs we offer our youth and find such joy in watching them blossom as they grow and find their way.  One young lady stole my heart a few years ago when I met her during judging for Youth of the Year. she didn't win that year, but she had an amazing story and I could see the potential in her - we all could.  She went on to win the next two years.  This year when she completed at the county level, she won and became San Diego County Youth of the Year.  The next step was the CA state competition a few weeks ago and guess what???  Yep - she won - again!  We are all so proud of her.  She graduated from high school last year with a GPA well over 4.0 at the age of 16. She is now enrolled at the local community college where she is excelling.  She is bright, charming,thoughtful, humble, and inspiring to one and all. What an amazing role model for our youth. She attended our board meeting the day after returning from the state win, so I made her a congratulatory card from the Board.  It was so much fun to do because I think the world of her and am so proud of her and excited for her.  I just know she is going to have an incredible life, no matter what happens with the remaining competitions.  There is a regional competition in June, and then that winner goes on to compete for the national title!  What an experience no matter what........I know her star will continue to shine bright for many years to come.

So with stars in mind, I used a stencil that I printed and foiled, and then created a fun little banner with the greeting.  That was printed with a gel pen in the Silver Bullet.  I don't draw with pens in the machine often, but every time I do, I make a promise to myself to do more of it because it is really so much fun and the results are beautiful.

The words on the little banner were "written" with the pen tool 
in the Silver Bullet Professional.  Then the banner was cut out.

The stars in the background were foiled in baby blue. (It's very close to the official blue color of the Boys % Girls Club of America)  It is so challenging to photography foil, but hopefully you can
get an idea.  It is so pretty in person.
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Saturday, May 6, 2017

Stuffed Southwestern Bell Peppers - Grain Free

This was one of the first main dishes I made using "faux rice" - otherwise known as grated or chopped cauliflower.  And let me tell you - I had my doubts about what it would really taste like.  The good thing is that I don't mind cauliflower - I actually like it most of the time so I was trying to keep an open mind.  BUT..... I was totally surprised. What happens, at least in this case, is that the cauliflower takes on the flavors that surround it - so you end up tricking your palate. Sure the texture is different, but when the taste is there, you really don't mind! I served it to my youngest son for our standard "family" Sunday dinner and he loved it!

Southwestern Stuffed Bell Peppers
adapted from "The Grain-Free Family Table" by Carrie Vitt

2 T. coconut oil
6 green onions, cut in quarter inch slices, with the white and green parts separated
1 lb. grass fed ground beef (it is worth the extra money to buy quality meat)
1 1/2 t. ground cumin
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 c. riced cauliflower (grated or chopped)**
1 small can diced green chilies (have always used Ortega or La Victoria)
2 c. grated Mexican blend cheese (the recipe called for Jack cheese, but I like the blend of cheddar and jack)
1/2 t. Celtic sea salt
4 large red, yellow, orange or green peppers, cut in half lengthwise with seeds removed
1/2 c plain Greek yogurt (you can use sour cream)
1/2 c. salsa (use your favorite)

**I like to take the cauliflower florets and grate them  in the food processor. It's easy and not quite as messy doing it that way.  And it's quick too. One head of cauliflower will yield about three cups of "cauli-rice".

Preheat the oven to 375. You want to bake this in the middle of the oven so change the rack if needed.

In a large skillet, melt the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the white parts of the green onions, half of the green parts (the remaining are garnish) and the ground beef.  Cook until there is no pink remaining in the meat.  Push the meat and onions over to the side of the pan, and place the cumin and garlic in the center of the pan.  Stir until the spice aroma is released and smells wonderful (about a minute) and then mix the meat into it. Add the grated or riced cauliflower, the canned chilies (drained), part of the cheese (about one cup) and the salt to the pan and stir just until they are all mixed well.

The peppers all lined up - just waiting to be filled.

Put the peppers cut side up in a 13x9 inch pan.  Divide the filling mixture evenly between the peppers.  Pour 1/2 cup hot water in the bottom of the baking dish, being careful not to get any into the peppers!  Cover the peppers with a sheet of parchment and then cover the parchment with a piece of foil and seal tightly over the top of the dish.  Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.
Remove the foil and parchment and top each pepper with a spoonful of sour cream and salsa and then sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the top of each. Return to the oven for 10 minutes or until the cheese is golden and bubbly.  Sprinkle the remaining green parts of the onions over the peppers and serve and enjoy.

These are so yummy and reheat well too!

This is how they look ready to go into the oven - so colorful and good too!

Melted cheese makes everything better!

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

More Cards to Share,,,,

 It seems the older I get, the more I am making get well and sympathy cards.  And maybe that's not true - perhaps the numbers have not changed all that much, but they are certainly impacting me more!

Some dear friends in northern CA lost a family member recently.  It was not totally unexpected, but no matter how old you are or how prepared you "think" you are, it is always difficult to lose a parent.
They have been so grounding most of our lives and it throws off the balance of our world for a time being and pushes us up into that role of Matriarch or Patriarch, depending.  I don't think we are ever ready for that. I know I wasn't.

This was a simple card - basically it's a reverse stencil that I cut out of the background rather than using the individual pieces.  It gives the look of an inlaid design and I like that.  I just wanted them to know that they were in my thoughts and prayers.

My neighbors are having an extended stay next door.  They have been living in the condo while he recovers from foot surgery.  They have a huge beautiful home not far from here, but it is three stories so staying in the condo with one level and elevator access to it from the garage, makes this the perfect place for healing! He has had complications, so their stay here has been extended. I am not complaining because I enjoy having someone next door.

I used the FoilMaster to craft his get well card and, as usual, I am now looking at new fun ways to use foil. Be prepared to see more of it because I am loving the look of it and between the laser printer and the FoilMaster, they are providing great results.  Photographing it is challenging...the colors are so beautiful.

This is a simple leaf pattern from a stencil that I printed on a  laser
monoprinter.  The intensity of the black is stronger and gives better foiling results, 
especially when I print at 1200 dpi.

Now you can see how beautiful the colors of the watercolor foil are - 
so many soft shades of green.  You have to catch it in the right light 
and then the colors come to life!

Another angle shows a wider variety of colors.
 An embossed "frame" made it complete.


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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins - Grain Free

So this was one of my first ventures into grain free baking.  There is definitely a learning curve because batters are "wetter" and I just have no comfort level for what it "should" look like. And they can be a little more work because there is usually a second flour to balance the almond flour and additional baking soda to help with the rise.

Even though I have had some epic baking failures, the successes make it worth the effort.  And one of the big surprises for me is that I have not missed the sugar.  I am a bit amazed at what a good job the honey does to sweeten the recipes I have tried, yet I cannot tell that the sweetener is honey - the flavor does not overpower but blends with the ingredients.  I am eager to learn more, bake more, and have a lot more successes to share!  This one is a keeper!

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

adapted from The Nourishing Home

2 c. blanched almond flour
2 1/2 t. poppy seeds
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. sea salt (I used Real Salt)
3 T. fresh lemon juice
2 T. lemon zest
3 t. whole coconut milk
1/4 c. raw honey (I use clover or wildflower)
1 t. almond extract
1 T. coconut flour
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 315 (that is not a typo - 315 is the temperature she uses for many of her recipes and since I am definitely learning, I am not about to change it...yet!) Line 8 of the muffins cups with parchment liners.  I use the "If You Care" large baking cups.  I love them - they don't stick to any kind of baked goods. They are wonderful.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix the almond flour, poppy seeds, baking soda and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, add the lemon juice, lemon zest, coconut milk, honey, almond extract, and coconut flour. Whisk until well blended.  Add the two eggs and whisk again until mixed well.

Add the almond flour mixture to the wet mixture and gently whisk, just until combined.  Do not overmix. Fill the 8 lined muffin cups evenly with the batter.

Bake for 22-25 minutes, until a toothpick in the center comes clean and the muffin edges are lightly browned.  Cool in the pan for about 3 minutes and then finish cooling on a wire rack or serve immediately. They are delicious warm.

The muffins are a little smaller and the texture is different, but there is still
a nice crumb and the flavor was wonderful.  ENJOY!

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Happy Easter Cards!

It was fun this past week to make a variety of Eater cards for grandchildren and friends.  I relied heavily on the designs from Miss Kate's Cuttables because they are great for "children" of all ages.

First up - cards for the granddaughters...

The designs are Fancy Easter Eggs from Miss Kate's Cuttables The solid card stock is PaperTemptress Mica that was run through an polka dot embossing folder.  Then I added sparkle pen to the dots in a diagonal pattern (in both cards)  I framed the sides of the cards with washi tape which was really fun.  I don't use it enough and it gives such a finished look.

You can see the sparkled dots a little better in the side by side.
And the adhesive pearls on the flowers added a nice little touch.

Then there is Carter - this was his first "real" Easter where he could actually have fun looking for eggs!

This card has a lot of dimension - I love that bunny face and added whiskers just because!  I love all of the bright spring colors.  The polka dot "o" egg (that makes up "Hoppy")
has dots colored over with a sparkle pen.

Not the traditional Easter basket, but he loves cars and trucks, so it was perfect. It was filled with bubble tubes, sidewalk chalk, an Easter book, a "sock bunny" and a few plastic eggs with little Rice Krispie treats inside!

My neighbors have a grandson who is 6 months younger than Carter, and they asked if I would make an Easter card for him.  Of course I was happy to do that!

These designs are from Miss Kate's Cuttables.  I added the "Happy 2nd" greeting and then used Glossy Accents  on the eyes to make them shine and Crackle Accents on the eggs to make the shells shiny and a little cracked!  This was fun and made in the early hours of Easter morning!

I had to include a photo of the carrot tops, cut with the regular blade and share the detail of
these pieces as it still blows me away when the machine can so easily produce such intricate cuts.

And I wanted to make a special card for my neighbors who are so good to me in so many ways.  This was incredibly difficult to photograph since the foil is so reflective, but I tried to get many angles to give you an idea. In person, it is really beautiful.  I plan to do a lot more foiling - the results are just too stunning not to do more of it!

The "Joyful Lilies" on the cross were printed on PT Neenah card stock
on a laser printer. (you need the toner for foil to adhere when it is laminated.)

This is gold spectre foil so it appears holographic as it catches the light. 
The sentiment is from Verve Stamps and was embossed with gold powder.

You can really see the colors in this photo.  It was stunning.

Tried to catch just the gold, but it almost doesn't look foiled in this picture.

I hope everyone had a happy and BLESSED Easter........

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Lost and Found... my Mojo!

For the past month I have really been struggling to come up with ideas for cards.  There was absolutely nothing that inspired or excited me.  So I did a total purge of my craft room that took a couple of weeks and emptied one entire unit of drawers and shelves that covered an entire wall!  It felt so good to let go of  "stuff" and that led to "new hones" for many of the remaining supplies.  Clearing space was a good start, but I was still feeling a bit lost when it came to being creative. 

So... I just took a stamp I had never used, stamped it on a piece of cardstock and started coloring.  I pushed myself to stick with it and slowly I found I was actually enjoying it. (More on that next month!)  I had no idea what I was going to do with it, but I didn't give up. While trying to come up with the next step, I found a stash of leftovers that were never used in projects, but were just waiting to be used!. And that was apparently what I needed to jump start my card making process.  I was beginning to feel the joy that comes with having an idea and making it come to life.  Yippee!

Unfortunately, this void in my creativity made me over a month late in crafting a birthday card for a friend. So I decided a friendship card would be more appropriate all things considered.  I had saved the negative image from a flower card that I made 3 - yes THREE years ago - so I pulled that from my new-found stash, and brought it to life!  I am so happy with how it turned out.  The original image was from a floral image I found online.  I kept it simple with glitter and just added ribbon and pearls to embellish it. 

Using two shades of glitter was something I had not tried before, but it was easier than expected. 
I worked slowly with little embossing powder spoons to control where it fell. 
I wanted the colors to flow into each other gradually.
Trying to capture the shine of the glitter is tricky, but it was so pretty in person.

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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Changes Are Coming....

In the past, I have been fairly open about different health challenges I have experienced, and things I have tried to help along the way.  I have been doing a lot of reading lately about grain free diets and their benefit. Going gluten free never made a difference for me, but perhaps this "cleaner eating" way of life will. I am have decided to make a concerted effort to stop eating all grain and see if it changes any of the pain and discomfort I have been feeling. No harm can come of this and I have

I have thought about this before but didn't want to lose my "ability" to bake.  I love baking and thought I was going to have to give that up completely, but I was SO wrong..  There are cookbook resources and recipes all over the internet that teach the ins and outs of baking "grain free".  It isn't always easy, it doesn't taste quite the same, and it takes a lot of practice, but I am up to the challenge.  I have made a couple of things already with almond flour and because of the higher than usual quantity of eggs required, the food came out a little gooey and egg-like.I am learning that there are things I can do to make the structure better so I plan to make recipes that not only look tempting, but taste delicious.  I am convinced I can come up with good alternatives. And other than baking, going grain free is not going to be that difficult.  I have been buying grass fed meats and organic range free chicken for years.  I buy pastured eggs and raw cheese as much as possible. And fresh veggies and fruits have always been part of my diet - especially this time of year as the variety of fruit becomes plentiful here.

I am not sure I can do the cauliflower pizza crust or cauli sandwich thins which seem to be the rage now.  But I am a cauliflower convert when it comes to cauli-rice and faux mashed potatoes.  The cauliflower takes on the flavoring of what it is mixed with and it's really yummy!  There are other ways to make healthier "bread" alternatives that fit into the grain free plan, so I have a lot of fun cooking ahead of me!

So those are the changes in my kitchen! I am eager and more than a little excited to share this grain free journey. Stay tuned!

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017


Yesterday I found myself sitting across a lunch table from an extremely bright, articulate, engaging woman who I have been blessed to know for years. She is a walking, talking history reference manual about the city where I was born and raised and currently live.  This city has been the brunt of a lot of bad press over the years because it borders a military base.

There were decades,when I was a little girl, when the downtown was not a very pretty or welcoming place to be.We all wondered if anything would change. It was honestly depressing. But…… change has come, albeit slowly, for the better. Decades ago the city began a redevelopment project to give our beloved town a face lift. And over time that has happened in a lovely way. Sometimes, when things are done well, the results outweigh the initial hopes. And I believe that was the outcome here.The facelift had a depth to it – that can be seen and felt by residents and businesses alike. I am so proud to live here and so excited to see all that is happening around me. Every week new businesses are coming to the downtown (affectionately known as Coast Highway, formerly Hill Street). Great little bistro pubs and craft breweries and specialty foods are popping up on every street.There are families wandering the streets morning, noon and night. There is live theater amid it all, and every Thursday part of the bustling downtown closes for a Farmers Market during the day, and a Sunset Market in the evening – with amazing food and entertainment.

I love this city, but not just because of what it is becoming, but because of the people who have come before and not only shared their dreams, but made their dreams a reality for themselves and for generations to come.
We sat and talked yesterday about why I was involved with various organizations here in the community.To say it is because I love it here is just too simple. The reason is so deep that it is difficult to find the words to really convey the “why”.  I had amazing role models. My parents were transplants in the 40s here – my Mom from New York and my Dad from Iowa. I won’t bore you with the details of their time here, but suffice to say they created wonderful lives that were rich with friendships. It didn’t matter what their career or religion was; the common thread was that everyone cared about each other. Together they gave back to this city that had given them the opportunities to chart their own path to success and brought them such a wonderful place to live and love.

It is because of them, of what I saw every day of my life, that gave my life a purpose I never truly realized for many years. The commitment was in my heart and soul, but remained dormant until my Dad passed away. It was only then that I became aware of the importance of the gift they had left me…the deep and unshaking love for my community. Oh, I didn’t realize that easily or quickly. I had to go through a year of darkness, grieving the loss of not only my last parent, but my best friend. I was in my 50s, but I felt like a lost child. Everyone grieves differently and it is a process for sure. But as I started to come out of that black hole, I could begin to accept not only the gift, but the responsibility that was now mine. My parents had created an incredible legacy of support and commitment to this city. And it was now up to me to continue their legacy as best I could. With the help of friends, I began to explore the organizations they loved to see if there was something I could possibly do to help on a small level. Initially it was overwhelming – they had done SO much and changed so many lives for the better. But it was also exciting to hear stories about them that I never knew, and look for ways to honor them by continuing their work in my own way. It was also a time of growth for me. I soon learned that what mattered more than anything was a willingness to be open and to let my heart lead me. And that I did. And surprisingly, the more I opened my heart, the easier it was to embrace the path that had been left for me.

I love Oceanside.I love the people. And I am grateful every single day to be a small part of the heartbeat of this beautiful city. My life has been blessed in so many ways.

Ok – enough philosophizing for one day!
I  hope to have more to share soon! Am planning some new cards and new cooking and baking adventures!

Stay tuned….
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About Me

My photo

I am a mother to three and Grammy to two beautiful granddaughters and one very handsome little grandson.  Was born and raised in southern California and am happy to call it home.  I fill my days with volunteer work, paper crafting, needlework of all kinds and cooking and baking.   I am blessed with wonderful family and friends who fill my heart on a daily basis.