Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Recipe Time: Gluten Free, Dairy Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Are you ready for the first of many gluten free, dairy free recipes? As someone who enjoys food, I knew I had to adjust certain favorites to fit my new diet. Early on, I had a hankering for something familiar and oh so delicious. Chocolate chip cookies. But first I had to find dairy free chocolate chips.  I headed to my local Good Earth (specialty foods market) and searched their shelves. Holy expensive, Batman! The dairy free stuff was at least twice the price of normal choc chips. I'm one of the most frugal people out there, so it is extremely difficult for me to fork over extra bucks for things like this. But, I also wanted cookies, so I bit the bullet and got a bag of Chocolate Dream semisweet chocolate chips. This chips are pretty darn good. Can't really tell a difference in taste.

After studying my go-to recipe, I started making adjustments. Here's what I've come up with:

Gluten Free, Dairy Free Chocolate Chip Cookies (makes 18-20 cookies)

1/4 c. Sugar
1/2 c. Brown sugar
1/2 c. Shortening
1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract
1 egg
1 c. + 2 Tb. Gluten free flour blend (I use my own. Rough recipe at the bottom*)
1 Tb. Golden flax meal (or add extra Tb of flour blend)
1/2 tsp. Xanthan gum
1 tsp. Baking powder
1/2 tsp. Baking soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2-3/4 c. Dairy free Chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine sugars and shortening until lumps are mostly gone. Add egg and vanilla, mix until smooth. Combine dry ingredients in separate bowl, whisk together to get lumps out or use sifter.
Dump dry ingredients into wet, mix well. Don't worry about overmixing. GF flours don't care. Add choc chips.

Grease cookie sheet or lay out parchment paper (I do the latter. Love parchment paper.) Drop spoonfuls of dough (about a tablespoonful), giving at least 1inch of space between. These cookies like to spread out. Bake for 8-9 minutes. Let rest on cookie sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring to cooling rack. Bake the rest or store leftover dough in fridge for up to 3 days. You can also freeze the dough. Defrost in the fridge for at least 24 hours.

I make these fairly often and think they taste as good as, if not better than, regular choc chip cookies. Sorry there aren't any pictures. I'll try to have some for other recipe posts. Enjoy!

*Flour blend. I'm not known for exact measurements when I'm making up recipes. This is a rough guesstimate of my blend.

2 c. White rice flour
2 c. Brown rice flour
1/2 c. Tapioca starch
1/2 c. Potato starch (NOT flour)

Add all to a bowl, whisk well to blend. Keep leftovers in a lidded container.

For the cookie recipe, I've also used sorghum flour, coconut flour, and oat flour in place of some of the rice flour blend. Experiment, if you're brave.

If you have questions, I'll do my best to answer them. :)

Saturday, March 4, 2017

A Gluten-free, Dairy-free Life

As I mentioned in my previous post, I've radically changed my diet to help alleviate my digestive issues. It's been about 7 months since I took the first step and it hasn't been too difficult. I still love to cook and it's been interesting working with different kinds of flours and milks. I grind my own rice flour and make my own plant milk. (My favorite so far is a combo of almond, oat, coconut, and Brazil nut.) It can be time consuming, but I like knowing exactly what's in the food I eat. During the past couple of weeks, I've slowly been reintroducing some foods I've avoided, hoping a few of them will be okay for me to eat again. So far, I've been okay with small amounts of Parmesan cheese and garlic/onion, the latters being among the most common triggers for IBS sufferers. As long as I take certain supplements along with them, I've felt okay. I've also had success with wheat sourdough and spelt bread, which is a plus since most gluten-free breads are either expensive or not very good if homemade, at least in my experience so far. Foods I'm going to try again soon are butter, honey, and pistachios. If you're curious about my lists of good vs bad food, you can Google "low FODMAP diet". And the bad foods aren't necessarily bad in general, just bad for me and other digestion troubled folks. If any of you have similar issues, please feel free to share in the comments. I'll be sharing some of my favorite recipes soon!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Still Alive

Dang. It's been a while. Like, several months a while. I'm not dead, nor was I abducted by aliens. I've been around, doing pretty much the same ol' thing, except I've neglected my blog. One reason might be because I'm doing the SAME THING. I'm arguably the most boring person on the planet and I didn't really have much to write about, and then the weeks passed and I kinda forgot to check back in regardless. I guess there are a few things I can update you about.

1. Still haven't finished book 3 in my Vessel series. I know, I've been making all sorts of claims about working on it and getting it done, but... I claim here and now that I WILL get it done. Promise.

2. Food makes me sick. Not all food, just the most delicious kind. Seriously though, I have some moderate to severe digestion problems that have plagued me for years, but over the last year or so it's gotten worse. Pretty sure it's the blanket diagnosis of IBS, so I've been following the low FODMAP diet. Which means I avoid wheat and dairy, as well as a number of vegetables and fruits, and a bunch of other seemingly random things. It was difficult at first, but I've more or less gotten the hang of it, by which I mean I make pretty much everything I eat, haven't been to a restaurant in months, and try not the cry when my sandwich doesn't have cheese. I'll probably write more about this topic later on, since I have recipes and such I'd like to share.

3. My handsome hubby recently went back to school. He's getting his masters in architecture. His dad has a pool business and hubby has decided to join in on the fun. He's trudging along and I'm helping when I can.

4. I have another new nephew. His name is Raiden and he's a dream boat :)

5. My Etsy art shop is still active, though sales are few and far between. Please check it out :) :)

6. Super Mario Maker is a blast!

7. I loooooove the anime Haikyuu!! I'm seriously obsessed with it. (Geek!) Karasuno, fight!

8. I haven't been to Disneyland in 4+ years. There is a glimmer of a chance that will change this year, cross your fingers! (And, of course, they're raising their prices :,(

9. I'm now 35. Ugh.

Well, that's all for now. I'll try extra hard to be around more often. And like I said, I've got new recipes to share.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

DIY-ing Update

A while ago I posted a recipe for a homemade body wash. It turned out pretty well, but my last batch started acting funny. Strange smell, extra clumpy, not lathering very well. Not sure which of the ingredients was the culprit, but I suspect the gelatin. So, I've discovered a slightly different version that I think will be better.

Body Soap

1 4 oz. bar of Castile soap (bought a three pack from Amazon)
Up to 12 cups water (start with about 10 cups)
2 Tablespoons vegetable glycerin (bought from Amazon)
1 heaping Tablespoon sea salt

Grate soap into fine bits. Fill large pot with about 10 cups of water. Add grated soap. Heat on high until soap melts (doesn't need to boil). When soap is melted, remove from heat, add glycerin and stir. Let sit for 24 hours. The mixture will have thickened slightly. Add sea salt (I used pink Himalayan bought from bulk section of WinCo) and stir. The salt will start to clump. Stir occasionally until the clumps grow. After about 30 minutes, use an electric hand blender or regular blender to thoroughly mix soap, smoothing out clumps. The soap will be frothy and rather thick. Add more water until you like the consistency. Transfer to storage containers. I like to add essential oils like grapefruit and frankensense, but I only add them to the bottle I'm currently using to keep the oils fresh. Since this is a new recipe, I'm not sure what long term storage will be like.

Saturday, April 30, 2016


My artwork has improved greatly over the years, but it's still not where I want it. There are things I struggle with and other things I stay away from as much as possible, especially trying to do faces from my own imagination. Of course, the only way to overcome these struggles is to practice. My hubby purchased some art tutorials a few years ago and has encouraged me to go through them so I can eventually get where I want to be. So far, it's been the basics, things I already know, but it's good to practice them anyway so I feel more comfortable and have a better footing for the harder things to come. I hope to open up a patreon account in the near future and see where that takes me. (If you aren't familiar with patreon, it's a site that allows artists/creators of every kind to showcase their work while supportive viewers contribute money for added rewards/exclusive content.) I'm not expecting to make big bucks there, (though some artists make a killing) but anything more than what I'm earning now would be awesome. Note: my current earnings from art is pretty much bupkis. Wish me luck!

If you still need a Mother's Day gift, you can use my etsy coupon code for 30% off when you spend at least $10. The sale ends on the 6th. The code is MOMSAVE. I've got great pictures that any mom would love!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Get That Gift!

I've got a discount code going on right now for my etsy shop in honor of Mother's Day. It's a pretty good deal. If you spend $10 or more, you can save 30% on your order using code MOMSAVE. (ends 5/6) This is a great chance to buy something unique for all the wonderful women in your life. Choose any of my digital paintings, including several lovely flowers. You'll also find a Mother's Day poem I wrote myself, which has three different background pictures to choose from:

All of my work is copyrighted. Please don't steal my poem :)

Get your gifts now!!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Here's How I Make Onigiri

I like making new foods from various places around the world. One I currently enjoy is onigiri (Japanese rice balls). I posted about a recent experience on Facebook and was asked to provide a recipe link. I looked around for the tutorial that taught me, but couldn't find it. Why not do my own? The only problem is that I often tweak the recipe, which makes it harder to remember steps that I do automatically as well as exact measurement. I think I got everything, though.

So, here is my attempt to offer a step by step guide to making onigiri. It isn't the traditional way, but it is fairly simple and less messy. Hopefully the pictures will be helpful. If you have questions, let me know.

You'll need sushi rice (I use Calrose from WinCo, which may or may not be labeled as sushi rice, but it works perfectly), salt for seasoning, a sheet of nori, which is dried seaweed if you didn't know, (I get mine at WinCo) cut into 1x3 in. strips, and a filling of your choice.

I cook a bunch of sushi rice (roughly 2 cups of dry rice). This should be enough for 5+ onigiri. I use a rice cooker and eyeball the amount of water. If you follow the 2:3 ratio for cooking rice, however, it should be about 3 cups of water. If you don't have a rice cooker, you should get one :)

After the rice is cooked, I spoon it into a large bowl and add 1 teaspoon of salt. I also add 1 1/2 Tablespoons of white vinegar and 1 teaspoon garlic powder, but they aren't necessary. It's how I do my rice for sushi as well. Mix gently. Cover with a plastic storage bag or piece of plastic wrap. I use the storage bag because it's sturdier, which helps in future steps. Let the rice cool for at least an hour, but I usually go for 2.

In the meantime, decide what filling you want. (It can be anything, really. BBQ shredded chicken, pepperoni, pork, scrambled or hard boiled egg...) If it needs to be cooked, do so beforehand and let it cool a bit. My recent favorite filling is a whole avocado, smashed and seasoned with salt and garlic powder, a couple Tablespoons of softened cream cheese, and five strips of cooked bacon, cut into small pieces. Mix together.

You will also need a small bowl of water and an empty cereal-sized bowl. I'll add some pics to help with the next steps.

1. Remove plastic from rice. You'll want to dry off the condensation from the side that was touching the rice. Lay in empty bowl.

2. Scoop out about a half cup of rice and put on plastic.
3. Wet hands in water and shake a bit to get off excess, then gently push on rice to spread it out into a circle, it will probably be a bit bigger than the palm of your hand.

4. Add a bit of filling the center. About 2 teaspoons worth.

5. Lift plastic/rice out of the bowl a set in one hand.

6. Pull sides of the plastic together, bringing the rice to close around the filling. Add a bit more rice on top to close the ball if necessary.

 7. Press firmly to make the rice stick together. If your filling is soft like avocado, don't press too hard. Shape it into a ball, oval, triangle, octagon, whatever. Mine are usually ovals.

8. Grab a strip of nori and place at one end like a little green diaper. This makes it easy to hold onto the onigiri when you eat it.

I stand them up in a container with a flat bottom and tall sides while I work on the others. Space them out a bit so they don't stick together.

Make a bunch more. It's time consuming if you do it alone, but not too hard. Have the kids make their own :)

You can eat now.

We like to dip ours in salad dressing (usually Newmans Garlic Parmesan) but use whatever goes with your filling or no dip at all. Store extras in individual sandwich baggies or plastic wrap. Should be good for at least a day in the fridge. Eat leftovers cold or room temp. I wouldn't microwave them, but you can pan fry them if the rice gets a bit hard. I haven't tried that yet, so good luck.