Saturday, December 14, 2013

Paleo Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I didn't actually have plans to write a post today, but I just had a kitchen experience so frustrating that I had to let it out. Have you ever got all excited to make something new, then once you start you realize that the recipe you are following is so elementally flawed as to not be possible? I had one of those today. And what made it even more frustrating, is that I was trying to bake my very first paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, processed sugar-free cookies. 

I have been on the anti-inflammatory plan for about four and a half months now. I am feeling so much better, my allergies are gone, my joints don't hurt, my stomach doesn't hurt, I'm not choking, I'm not vomiting, my headaches are gone... and there is the tiny added benefit that I have dropped 42 lbs. So this form of eating is obviously working for me, and therefore I need to continue to expand my horizons in the kitchen with this type of eating plan.

So that said, I bit the bullet and bought some almond flour, some evaporated cane juice (since this is a form of sweetener that doesn't make me sick), and dairy-free, processed sugar-free chocolate chunks (I use the ones by Enjoy Life... love them!). Then I started looking for recipes. I have a couple of blogs I follow where I really like the recipes for Paleo and Gluten-Free, so that's where I started. I found a picture that looked good, and I dove in head-first. And then I got mad.

The recipe that I started with indicated that I add the ingredients into my food processor and pulse until they form a dough. My first clue should have been that there was no real liquid in the recipe. Two tablespoons of honey was not going to be enough to turn two cups of almond flour into dough. Never going to happen. So the dough part wasn't going well. Then it occurred to me that even if I added enough liquid ingredients to make a dough, it was going to need to be in my mixer and not a food processor, because the food processor wasn't going to be able to handle the amount of so-called dough that was going to be in it.

So I transferred the ingredients into my super-awesome Kitchen-Aid Kick-Ass Mixer (I think Kitchen-Aid left out the "Kick-Ass" part because they didn't want to gloat, but that's what I call it). Then I started experimenting. I added 2 eggs and beat them into the ingredients. That got me a bit closer. Then I added about 1/4 cup of So Delicious Coconut Milk Eggnog (but the Silk Eggnog, or even regular would work, or probably regular coconut milk, too). That got the consistency I wanted. Then I tasted the dough and realized that two tablespoons of honey wasn't enough to make that amount of dough actually taste like cookies, so I added 1/4 cup of Evaporated Cane Juice. That did the trick. Then I folded in 1/2 bag of Enjoy Life Chocolate Chunks. Then I crossed my fingers and baked.

 And this is what I got: Soft, cakey, light, perfectly flavored chocolate chunk cookies. I was so pleased with the result, I figured I had better share, because the other recipes out there are seriously lacking. You have to wonder if anyone ever tested them before posting them!

In any case, here is what I did:

Paleo, Gluten-Free Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Makes about 25 cookies

2 Cups Almond Flour
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/4 Cup Coconut Oil
2 Eggs
1/4 Cup Coconut Milk EggNog
2 Tbsp. Honey
1 Tbsp. Vanilla Extract
1/4 Cup Evaporated Cane Juice (Sucranet)
1 Cup Enjoy Life Chocolate Chunks

Take the dry ingredients and put them in a mixer; add in the Coconut Oil and mix until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time and mix in. Pour the coconut eggnog in and mix until combined. Add the honey and the extract. Add the Evaporated Cane Juice. Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently fold in the Chocolate Chunks.

Drop by tablespoons onto a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 7 minutes. Let cool completely before you remove from the rack.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Adventures in Fused Glass

Back in March/April I posted about a website that I had built for a friend. He owns a glass tile and custom art business called Northwest Glass Tiles. I am sharing this now as kind of a shout-out for him and several other businesses that will be featured at a local Holiday Art Show this weekend, at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Vancouver. The show runs from 9 am to 4 pm on Saturday and Sunday.

In exchange for the website, Hal made me some fused glass dinner plates and matching coasters. I would like to share those with you, as well as some of the other coasters that he is featuring at the show. If you totally love them, you can head over to the show this weekend and purchase some. If you want some of the dinner plates, give him a shout-out on his website (there is a 'contact us' screen) and let him know you are interested. He will contact you about colors, etc. He also does bowls, custom art... all kinds of fun stuff!

 These are the dinner plates that he made for me.

 I have a set of four plates, and four matching coasters!

 These are some other designs that he will be offering at the show. He has a wide variety of colors and patterns available. These make really great gifts, too. Each one is handmade, and an original.

 I like the colors and bold design on the red and black ones.

 These blue and green ones make me think of Monet's paintings, like the Lily Pond or the bridge...

Okay... enough looking at the pictures! If you love 'em, go to Hal's website and give him a shout-out, or just comment below and I will make sure he gets your note.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I am thankful for creative and innovative friends who inspire me and keep my creativity flowing!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

HoHoHo - Holiday Season Is Upon Us!

I can't believe we are already half-way through November. I am rapidly running out of time to finish my Christmas gifts. Apparently I have spent my time making things for fun or for my Etsy shop instead of my gifts. Hm. Poor planning on my part.

Okay, one non-gift finish to share with you, and then I will get down to the serious job of making gifts... and probably some more stuff just for fun. :) Because that's how I roll.

So I completed a cute (if I do say so myself) Ho Ho Ho holiday wall-hanging.
 The finished size is about 6" x2.5", and it has brown felt backing and a wire hanger.

 The design is cross-stitch, with some back-stitching and half-stitching for details.

I think it looks pretty darn good on my red kitchen walls. What do you think?

This is available for sale on my Etsy Shop (SwissMissStitches) for $15.00.

And now... actually getting ready for the holidays! Talk to you all soon!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Potato Salad - Anti-Inflammatory Friendly!

This potato salad is pretty amazing, for several reasons. Number one, it tastes good. Really good. Number two, it has no dairy. None. It also has no egg. No mayo. Nothing creamy. Nothing that will go bad if this is sitting out on the table at a potluck. Number three, you can serve it hot, or at room temperature. It travels easy. It also has no soy, no gluten, no wheat, no citrus, no sugar... it's really a thing of beauty.

I made this recently for a couple of potluck events, and it was a big hit! People tend to be a bit skeptical about the mint, but once they try it, they are sold. It adds a bit of a sweeter finish to it.

 You start with the red potatoes. Now the actual recipe makes about enough to serve six as a side dish. I made enough to serve 24 since there were a couple of potlucks in the works. As a side note, it takes a bit longer to cook that many potatoes!

 This recipe uses shallots instead of onions, and I really like the flavor they add. You can sub onions if you don't have shallots, but they will have a bit of a sharper flavor.

 While the potatoes are cooking, you mix up the shallots with some white wine vinegar, some salt and some pepper.
 You tear up some fresh mint.

When your potatoes are done, the skin will be a little cracked, like you see here, and they will be fork tender. If they get over-cooked, they will be hard to chop and you may end up just mashing them. Which is perfectly acceptable, just not quite as pretty. :)

 Peas. I used the frozen kind because I needed 4 cups of fresh peas and I wasn't about to shell that many. Lazy...

Once the potatoes are cut up, add to the vinegar mixture while still warm. Toss to coat. Then add in the oil, peas and mint. You can add more salt and pepper if you think it needs it, but I thought it was perfect!

Potato Salad with Peas and Mint

Serves 6 as a side dish


2 lbs small Red Potatoes
2 Tbsp. White Wine Vinegar
1 Tbsp. Shallot, minced
1 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Cup Peas
1/3 Cup Mint leaves, chopped or torn

Cover potatoes with cold, salted water and then simmer, covered, until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. While the potatoes are cooking, whisk together vinegar, shallot, salt, and pepper in your serving bowl.

When the potatoes are done, drain and halve or quarter, depending on the size of your potatoes. Add the potatoes to the bowl with the vinegar mixture while the potatoes are still warm, and toss to coat. Add the oil, mint, and peas, and toss to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.

This can be served warm or at room temperature.

Nutritional Information:
Calories: 216
Carbs: 31g
Fat: 7g
Protein: 7g

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Urban Sling Purse and T-Shirt Quilt = Finished!

It has been a busy couple of weeks since my last post. I had another quilt retreat, this one in Hood River, OR. I really enjoy this retreat. We rent a large house (6 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms), and this year we crammed 14 people in! Two painters, 11 quilters, and a nurse (in case we got hurt). We did a lot of crafting, some wine tasting, and way too much laughing!

It was a pretty productive weekend for me, as I got two big finishes under my belt. The first is the urban sling purse that I have been working on (or as my friend Chris would say 'NOT working on') for the last three years.
 As you can see, I had some fun with the fabrics.  :) I really like the black and white sunflower print with the red rose accents on the flap straps and shoulder strap.

The inside fabric is a fun little red and white Hawaiian flower print. There are three pockets on one side, and two pockets on the other, and a magnetic snap closure for the top of the purse. It also has a cell phone pocket on one side.

The sides and bottom of the purse are reinforced so it holds shape well. The bottom also has four feet on it for stability.

 The strap is long and convertible, so you can hang it on a shoulder or across your body and it hangs at about hip level.

 You can also double it over and tuck the purse under your arm. I am going to sell these in my Etsy Shop (SwissMissStitches) for $50.00 each. They will be make to order (takes about 1 week or so to make and ship), so you can select color combos and make special requests for fabric.

I also finished a memory quilt made out of T-shirts. The T-shirts belonged to a close friend of mine, and the quilt is going to be a Christmas present for her daughter. She has no idea I have done this, so it will be a nice gift for her. The T-shirts are all Hawaiian themed (this was the same friend that received the Hawaiian quilt I made before... see that post). I used a light cotton batting just to make the quilt a little thicker/warmer.

 The finished quilt is about 36"x50", so it is a good lap quilt size.

When putting the pattern together, I had a couple of spots that needed filling, but no sufficient t-shirt material for them, so I supplemented with this beautiful butterfly print. Butterflies are kind of special in my family. When my Grandmother was losing her fight with stomach cancer, my nephew noticed the changes in her skin and told us that she was becoming a chrysalis, so that when she died, she could go to Heaven as a butterfly. That has stuck with all of us for a long time. So this memory quilt got butterflies.

I used a soft minky fabric for the backing, in a bright, happy pink with a fun pattern. Her favorite color was pink, so it seemed appropriate. Instead of actually quilting it, I used a pink embroidery floss to tie the quilt.

I used a slightly different technique for binding the quilt, using an ombre pink satin binding for the quilt. The thought was that it is supposed to be comforting, so the softer textures seemed like a better idea to me. I think this quilt will be quite a surprise, but will get (and give) a lot of love.

Now on to that table topper I have been working on...

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Pink and Grey Ladder Quilt - officially finished!

This is a quilt that I started in spring of this year at a quilt retreat in Orting, WA. I finished the quilting of it at the quilt retreat in Long Beach (Lighthouse Resort) earlier this month. I just finished hand-stitching the binding yesterday.

The finished quilt measures 46" by 63" inches. It features a pink and grey damask print, white with pink swirls, and grey with darker grey flowers on the front. The backing is done in a pink and grey paisley print with a strip of the pink damask. The binding is done in the grey fabric.

The quilting is all free-hand on my machine, with a focus on curves, swirls and spirals to create visual differentiation from the geometric pattern of the quilt front.

 The ladder pattern features an "S" curve that meets in the middle blocks.

The squares feature a spiral pattern

I love the colors, fabrics, and pattern of this quilt!

This quilt is listed for sale on my Etsy shop: Swiss Miss Stitches.

Thank you for letting me share!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

One Minute Chocolate Cupcakes - Anti-Inflammatory Friendly

Okay, I just had to share this. You know how you come across something and you get so excited you do the little hop up and down dance and clap your hands? That's how I'm feeling right now. So as I have mentioned in some of my other posts, I am on an anti-inflammatory diet (that is working FABULOUSLY, thank you). In the nine weeks that I have been strictly following this diet all of my swelling and joint pain is gone, my nosebleeds are gone, headaches are gone; the vomiting, stomach cramps, and choking are gone. I feel amazing. I have also dropped 25 lbs, so that's a rather nice side effect, I must say.

But in that nine weeks, I have also gone without a lot of things that many people take for granted. One of those things is chocolate. Another is baked goods. The diet I have been adhering to calls for no wheat, no gluten, no dairy, no soy, no sugar, no citrus, no eggs, no corn, no nightshades. So for the first six weeks, none of that. Then after six weeks I started to add in foods. So far I have added citrus, eggs, nightshades, and soy. I am working on corn this week. None of them have produced any severe reactions, so it is likely going to be wheat, gluten, dairy or sugar to which I am allergic. Or some combination thereof.

So anyway, you can imagine how excited I was when I ran across this recipe for cupcakes. It was posted on Ditch The Wheat, a blog that focuses on gluten-free, dairy-free, and low-carb recipes. So this recipe has no flour, no gluten, no dairy, and no processed sugar. It does have honey, which I am allowed because it is a whole food (no processing). And they cook in one minute. That's right. One minute. Talk about instant gratification. I made the recipe instantly. No kidding. I jumped up from my computer and jogged to the kitchen.

  Look at this beauty: chocolatey goodness.  All for me. Well, actually the recipe makes three. So I will generously share one with Mike. But the other two are for me!

I made them in these small ramekins, and that worked perfectly.

If you would like a link to the original recipe, you can find it here. Or you can look below for how I made them.

Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes

This makes three cupcakes:

1 egg
2 Tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 Tbsp Honey
1/4 tsp Baking Soda

In a bowl, mix together the first three ingredients. When well mixed, add the baking soda and mix until completely combined.

Pour the batter into microwaveable cupcake liners (silicone works), ramekins (which is what I used) or the original recipe says you can put it in a medium bowl to make one bigger cake, or in a coffee mug. Since I used the ramekins, I lightly greased the inside with coconut oil. If you use the cupcake liners you can skip this step.

Microwave all three cupcakes at once for one minute. The cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. If the cupcakes aren't quite done (since microwave strength does vary), just put it in for a couple more seconds.

*Note: the batter will rise very high at first and then deflate as it is finished baking.

These would be good with fresh raspberries or strawberries, or banana slices with honey. Hm. I might have to go eat that second cupcake!

Nutritional Information:
Calories: 53.5
Carbs: 8g
Protein: 3g
Fat: 2g

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Super-Tasty White Chicken Chili

I made this recipe the other night, and it was so good that I really need to share! I mean, we all need a tasty, healthy, easy dinner that we can pull together in under twenty minutes, right? I will confess, however, that this recipe was poached from one of my favorite blogs (Gimme Some Oven). Normally I take recipes and tweak them based on my dietary needs, food preferences, availability of local ingredients, or because they just really need a little more oomph. But not this one. I only made one teensy-weensy, itsy-bitsy change. I added a little dried cilantro, but that's because I didn't have any fresh cilantro on hand. I know a recipe is good when Mike will actually eat leftovers. :)

 So this recipe starts with some shredded chicken. I generally poach my chicken breasts and use two forks to shred them. The poaching method keeps the chicken really moist. You can, however, easily use a pre-roasted chicken from your local grocery store and just shred that meat. Or you can be one of those really organized people who spend their spare time prepping food and already have four cups of shredded chicken in the refrigerator or freezer. Regardless, you are going to need to come up with four cups of shredded chicken.

 Some cumin (and in my case, cilantro)...

 Some white beans mixed in with the chicken and spices...

And two cups of Salsa Verda. The Gimme Some Oven recipe also offers up a homemade Tomatillo Salsa Verde recipe that you can find here, but I was lucky enough to find an excellent Tomatillo and Avocado Salsa at Costco (love that place!) that had a list of ingredients all approved on my Anti-Inflammatory Diet. I think the brand name was Roja's... but it was delicious!

Add in 6 cups of chicken broth (I used organic because it fits my diet plan).

 And twenty minutes later (or less!) you are eating some fantastic White Chicken Chili. I put avocado in mine (because that's how I roll). Mike put cheese and Sriracha sauce (Rooster Sauce!) in his, because that's how he rolls.

The recipe as I made it is posted below, but I highly recommend you check out the original too, if for nothing more than her seriously amazing photography! Trust me on this, her pictures are way more yummy than mine!

White Chicken Chili

(Her recipes says 2-4 servings, but Mike and I got six full bowls out of this recipe, so I would say 6 servings)


6 Cups Chicken Broth, organic, low sodium
4 Cups Shredded Chicken
2 15 oz cans of Great Northern or White Beans, drained and rinsed
2 Cups Tomatillo/Avocado Salsa Verde
2 tsp Cumin
1 tsp dried Cilantro (if fresh is not available). If fresh is available, use lots of that instead!

Stir all ingredients together in a large saucepan (or a dutch oven, if you are like me). Heat over medium-high until boiling, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for at least 5 minutes. I simmered for about 15 minutes, and it was delicious!

You can top this with almost anything you want: avocado, sour cream, shredded cheese, fresh cilantro, tortilla chips/strips... even a corn-based salsa would be really good on it (although not in my diet yet).

I hope you enjoy!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Crafting Retreat at the Lighthouse Resort in Long Beach

The Lighthouse Resort

The townhouses at the Resort

I don't normally write about places I stay or places I eat, but I have to share a couple with you from this past weekend. A group of us visited The Lighthouse Resort in Long Beach, WA. We had a party of about 14 people, most of us crafters of some sort (quilting, knitting, painting, scrapbooking), and several of us play tennis as well. So we organized a crafting/tennis get-away weekend.

Chris working on embroidered quilt blocks - the most adorable little snowmen!
Penny painted Christmas ornaments.
Gwen, cutting the binding for her quilt.

Gwen, Donna, Chris and Penny, crafting a good time with some wine and friends on our balcony. It came with a great view!
The view from the balcony.
Mother Nature, crafting some incredible sunsets for us!
Mother Nature's sunset on Saturday night.

The resort was great! They allowed us to use the clubhouse to set up all of our crafting materials. We rented out a couple townhouses and single rooms, we had open play and drills for tennis, and we got to take part in a wine social sponsored by the tennis department! Some of the ladies even got to go take part in some razor clamming, and although I wasn't one of them (shellfish allergies... sigh), I hear they all limited out!

We also had the opportunity to eat at an amazing local restaurant: Shelburne's. This place was built in 1896 and has so many original features and so much charm. The food... oh where do I start? Local ingredients. Fresh. Cranberries. Mushrooms. Truffles. Basil Oil. Enough said. If you find yourself in Long Beach, definitely get some reservations and give this place a go. David is the proprietor, make sure you say 'hello'!

Long Beach is also known for it's cranberry bogs (OceanSpray is located there), although we did not stop by to see those this trip. If you go in the fall, though, you can watch the cranberry harvest. And we did pass a lot of roadside stands selling fresh cranberries.

The townhouses from the beach.
The resort clubhouse. The tower has an incredible view. That's where the wine social was held.

The waves coming in.

I had to include this photo of the sun. I mean, this was the Washington Coast, in October, and there was SUN. Besides, it's probably the last time I will see it all year!