Saturday, February 1, 2014

It's finally our year...
the year the Seahawks are in the Super Bowl! WA-HOO!!!!
To celebrate, I've created a special cookie in honor of the "12th man," the Seahawk's fans... for us who are loud & proud, and blue & green!

½ c. butter (room temp.)

½ c. coconut oil (melted)

1 c. sugar

1 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 large egg

1 Tbsp. vanilla

2 c. flour

¼ tsp. salt

½ tsp. baking powder

lots of blue food coloring

Cream Cheese Frosting:

½ c. unsalted butter

1 package cream cheese (8oz.)

2-3 c. powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

lots of green food coloring

If you are going to a party with lots of fans, feel free to double the recipe.

For the cookie, blend together all the wet ingredients. Then add the dry ingredients, adding the flour little by little. For the blue color, keep adding until you get a dark blue. (By the way, this is going to take a lot of food coloring. Feel free to add less... but dark blue is the way to go for true color!
Roll out the dough flat, about 1/4 inch thick, and cut out small sized circles. I used the rim of a champagne flute to get the right size. I made several larger ones at first, and they were just too big. Keep it small and sweet!

If you're feeling crazy, you can also carve some awesome 12's with a toothpick on the top of half of the cookies to show your pride!

Bake the cookies on a Silpat mat or non-stick parchment paper at 350* for 9-10 minutes. You want them to be firm and fully cooked, but still soft to bite.

While the cookies are baking, whip up some cream cheese frosting, blending the butter and the cream cheese first, then add the powdered sugar little by little for the right consistency. Slightly firm frosting is good, so when you blend it, it should forms peaks. Add green food coloring little by little for the right green. (Again, this takes quite a bit, but adjust to your own color desires.)

When the cookies are all baked and cooled, make sandwiches with the frosting in the middle. Serve to your fellow '12th Man' (aka. Seahawk's fans) on the big day!


Monday, January 27, 2014

Whole Wheat Garlic Flatbread

You know that thing that happens when what you try something new, and it turns out completely wrong... but instead you get something else that's super awesome? Ya, that happened to today! I tried to make these yummy looking crackers from ShowFood Chef: 10 Minute Crackers - Simple Saturday 

It's not her fault! I'm sure they would have worked... if I'd done it right. However, what I got instead was a super easy and delicious garlic flatbread recipe. SO you can decide, crackers... flat bread... some of each? You can go look at the original recipe, but this is what I did differently.

Whole Wheat Garlic Flatbread
1 c. whole wheat flour (spelt might work well too!)
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese
1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. water
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder (optional)
extra sea salt and parmesan cheese for sprinkling.

I added the flour, butter, and cheese together with my hand mixer. (Next time, I'm using the food processor!) Then I added the salt and garlic powder, (probably more than what I have listed if I'm being completely honest. I LOVE garlic!) Next, add the water a little at a time until soft. I accidentally added it all at the same time. Maybe don't do that!

The thing I did super different was this: when I rolled it out, because the dough was too sticky from too much water, I didn't make the crackers thin enough to be actual crackers. The dough was rolled thick like pizza dough.

I topped it with sea salt and parmesan, but feel free to experiment with toppings. I let it bake before cutting the crust for the bread slices. I made squares, but make whatever shapes you want!

Baked it at 400 for probably about 15 mins total. Try 10, then add 2 or 3 mins. a few times, checking. It might need longer. (I was also doing other things and lost track of how many times I added more time.) Just make sure they bake long enough to have nice golden color around the edges and the parmesan on top is baked in that lovely toasted color.

This beautiful thick garlic flatbread stuff was ready for lunch! I warmed up some marinara sauce I had and threw some parmesan in for dipping. Make a little side salad! DONE! If you have a pizza craving, this is cheap, fast, and super tasty!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Spelt Bread
(Bread-maker Style)

For Christmas, I got a bread-maker! I'm ecstatic!

I've made 3 loaves so far, and we're not that far into January!
Two of those loaves were spelt bread. "What is spelt?" people keep asking me. It is a type of ancient grain related to wheat but higher quality nutrients! Spelt still has gluten, but it is a different kind of gluten than is found in regular wheat. It is easier to digest, and people who are sensitive to wheat can often eat spelt, as it doesn't cause the same kinds of reactions. As always, if you need to be completely gluten-free, be cautious! (I'm sure I don't need to even tell you that!) But for those of us who are trying to simply have less gluten in our diet, spelt is a delicious alternative.

I'm not an expert on grains, so if you have more questions, I found a few good places for you to start your research.
You can read more about the spelt grain at these sites:

So all this said, spelt is delicious, has a type of gluten that's easier to digest, and has more nutrients than regular wheat! And it's fun to mix things up in our diets every now and again. So, even if you're not gluten sensitive, you're going to want to try spelt bread!

I've been playing with a spelt bread recipe I found online:

The thing about spelt bread recipes is many include lecithin or a type of milk. I didn't want those. I just wanted to just keep it simple. Even the original recipe has two different types of spelt flour, which I'm sure makes the texture different. I wanted an easy recipe I could make for regular bread use. No more bought bread for this family!
This recipe is simple, egg and dairy-free, and turns out light and fluffy! What more could you ask for!?

Spelt Bread

1¾ c tepid water
2 tbsp. safflower oil (or olive oil)
4 c. organic wholegrain spelt flour
1½ tsp. sea salt
2 Tbsp. organic sugar (or honey)
¼ tsp. baking powder
2 tsp active dry yeast

First put in your water and oil into the bread-making bowl,
then add flour, salt, sugar, and then the yeast in the appropriate place (mine bread-maker has a yeast spot and adds it at the right time. I'm telling you, I love this thing!)

Bake on normal or rapid bake mode, with a small/medium loaf, and light/medium crust.

There is nothing like homemade bread just out the oven...
aka. the bread-maker!

Happy Baking!

Saturday, October 26, 2013


     I know it's too early for many of you. You may be mad at me for even mentioning it, but you'll be thankful I did if you keep reading.

     Last year I wrote this similar post on my other blog about early Christmas shopping. I have used all these tips, and they have really helped us to have a more budget friendly, less stressful, and more meaningful gift giving season. 


     I have some things that I just want you to think about regarding the holidays and gift shopping. When you mention Christmas shopping before Halloween, people want to hit you, or send other people to hit you, but I don't care! I hope these tips will help us all save money, give us time to find purposeful and personal gifts for those we love. I want to help you make the season less stressful and more enjoyable, because the hard part is already done. Wouldn't you just love to have the stressful part of Christmas over so you can enjoy the season!? (Maybe the stressful part is to come... the part with all your family. In that case, I'm so sorry! And I just can't help you. Haha! Oh dear...)

      I like to give a quick shout out to my momma! She is the queen of early Christmas shopping! Trips over the summer, she'll come back saying she has a Christmas gift for you. I know... I love it! 
     Quick story about early Christmas shopping: One year, her early planning really paid off. She started early like always, but then God told her to finish everything before November. She listened, finished it all, and around Thanksgiving became terribly ill and needed surgery. All of Christmas she was laid up and healing, but all her shopping was done! My sister and I focused on the food, and everything went off without a hitch even with extended family coming! Moral is, you never know what's going to happen, but planning ahead often helps when life throws in the unexpected. Also, listen when God gives you those nudges of intuition, but that's for another day.

     Before I go into things, know that I LOVE Thanksgiving. It is so important to be mindful of the things we have and show sincere gratitude for them. This spirit of Thankfulness gets run over by the greed of the holiday wish lists. In our home, we value what we have and using things until they wear out. We live simply, are mindful of our blessings, and are thankful for our gifts from others and from our Father God.
     Throughout the season of the holidays, remember what you've been given, and constantly give thanks. We have so much, that we are able buy gifts for others, and even ingredients to make sweets! We are so blessed!!!! It is in this spirit of thanksgiving and responsible home living that I suggest the follow ideas for purposeful, budgeted holiday gift giving.

Why do holiday shopping now?

1. More time to decide

     When I'm deciding on a gift to get someone, I can take some time to think about what to look for, and plan ahead for what I think that person would like. I can write down some ideas, and start looking in store and online for the best prices for this item. If I see that it's on sale, I can get it then. I don't have to settle for anything, because "It's the day before Christmas Eve, and I have to get them SOMETHING!?" That's a horrible feeling!

     Also, I should mention if you're going to make something for someone, especially a knit item, you MUST plan in advance, as you need time to complete it. Knitters know large gift planning takes place around August or September, or October at the latest if you are fast and the item's not that large.

     So... you have more time, so you're less stressed, you can save money, and find more personal, thoughtful gifts!

2. Stores are LESS CROWDED!

     You know that feeling... sandwiched in amongst a shocking and impressively large crowd of people. You might start to panic as you realize that, if there were a fire, you will either become trampled or burned alive. Sounds like fun...

     Okay, I'm exaggerating. But I don't like large crowds. And I don't like that blonde b... um, woman... pushing me out of the way to grab the last fuzzy penguin blanket. And I don't like being made to feel like "If I don't grab that last one, there's no way I can give it to so-and-so." Oh, please!! If you go early, there's plenty of the item and no trampling. 

     On a side note, one year at Black Friday, my mom was pushed over, then stepped on several times. Many more unlucky folks die every year of this same kind of thing. I mean, really people? Is this what holidays in America have become!? This is so sad.

     So, you'll have less stress, less pressure, more selection, and no death by trampling! Sounds good to me!

 Just for fun, this was our first ornament, a glass nativity. It's a favorite!

3. You can plan where you spend

     As I mentioned before, if I already know even a few things I'm looking for on my list, I'm watching for sales. Or even better, I can do more planning of where I intend to go to get these things. I have time to include local shops or artists, and thrift stores!

     Local shops are great!!! Why not keep Christmas money in the local economy, spending it on quality products? And I know a few of the local artists here in Bend. They would be thrilled to be supported by you, knowing you like their work enough to give it as a gift. What a fun, unique gift idea!

     And Thrift Stores are FABULOUS!!!! They are my personal favorite gift finding place. And let's get real: Not everything we give must be brand new. Where did we get that idea? (Probably part of the American consumerism constructs created post WWII to keep people spending money.)

     Thrift stores have fun things you can't find anywhere else, because they stopped making them. I always find such unique items in them! I once found a bundle of Tunisian crochet hooks! You can't even find those in all the sizes anymore, and they were antique, and I've used them. It's fun to find gifts that you know will not be duplicated by anyone else, because this is the only one in town. Plus, the money spent at thrift stores go to great local charities, not some big corporate pocket. Maybe I'll buy all my gifts at thrift shops. (Last year, I think 90% of my gifts given were from thrift stores!)

     So, not only are you saving money, local goods help the local economy. If you go to thrift stores, the money helps local charities, and you find unique things for your unique people! Love this!!

Also just for fun, my Christmas bulb self portrait

4. Save Money!

     Here's the deal: Like most all people, we are on a budget. Isn't most everyone? That's just how it is. We live simply, and we make our priorities. So this year for Christmas, I am watching carefully how much we spend. (Yet another reason I am loving the thrift store shopping idea.)

     The great thing about shopping early, I can keep a closer eye on how much we spend, and meter it out each month or week. It doesn't become this all at once expense where we are going "how are we going to live now!?"

     Another thing, use what you have, not what you don't. Be realistic about the amount spent. If you're like me, you LOVE giving gifts because it's one of your love languages or you enjoy the look on people's faces when it's a great gift for them. These are all great things! If you're like me, you want to get everyone everything. Or, in some cases, maybe you're worried that people will think less of you if you don't get them a good enough gift. It's not worth going into deep financial debt! Keep things simple! Maybe this year, try reducing your budget even more, then saving up for next year to be a big gift giving season. How special would that be, knowing you put in that effort, and was purposeful about saving specifically for that event?

     So, a balanced, realistic budget keeps you from going into debt and having more headache! Let's be responsible with our money and focus on what's truly important.

The Penguins bring gifts to worship Baby Jesus

5. When you've got all the shopping done ahead, you can enjoy the Holiday & Christmas Season!!!

     Imagine you haven't bought all your gifts the day before Christmas Eve. You've put it off, and now you're running around like a crazy person, everything is crowded, stressful, and you have no idea what you're getting people, because you didn't plan. And you still need to wrap everything. And you need to get to that holiday party you promised your best friend you'd at least stop by for. There's NOT ENOUGH TIME!? <Panic>

     Now, imagine you bought all your gifts and wrapped them two weeks ago. They are sitting lovingly under your tree, adding to the seasons' decorations. You had enough time today to make cookies for all your neighbors, and bring some them to the holiday party this evening. You even had enough time to get ready and look fantastic! All because you planned ahead and got it done!

     I know, this seems a little idealistic and exaggerated, but this has been true in my life. I have been both of these people before in different years. I love enjoying my holiday time, having things set up, knowing I found thoughtful gifts for everyone, with everything wrapped ahead of time, decorating my tree for a week or two. I want time to plan and buy purposeful gifts, and also watch and spread out my spending.

     That's why I have already bought one gift, seriously planned several, and later this afternoon, my good friend Erika and I are going Christmas shopping at a few thrift stores. This is the second year in a row I will go Christmas shopping at Thrift Stores with a friend. Last year, my sister and I went once a week! SO much fun! I highly recommend going Christmas shopping with a friend. It's much more fun, and good to have an occasional second opinion.

     Let's remember that Christmas is not about shopping and how much you spent! It's not even really about about what you got for people, or what people got you. Christmas is about greater spirit of giving to those you love and who love you, and spending time with them. And even more, it's about the ultimate gift ever given: Jesus, God born as a baby, so he could show us how to live, and later would die to set us free from our sins. This is Christmas!      May you live in the spirit of Peace & Thankfulness well beyond the New Year!

~ Christina

By the way....  do you have ideas about early Christmas shopping or holiday money saving tips? Feel free to comment below!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

In our home, we eat a bunch of stir fry type meals.
I don't mean we eat a lot of just Asian style stir fry. You can make so many wonderful dishes with this method: a bunch of seasonal chopped veggies and a type of grain.
If you want to add protein, add a protein.  

However, this is one reason I LOVE quinoa! 
There are 24 grams of protein in a cup of quinoa!

So with some different veggies, various grains, and often some sort of protein, stir fry type meals are a staple in our vegetarian household. We call them skillet dinners.

This particular one is a variety I've been playing around with for a couple months now.
There are so many lovely seasonal veggies right now showcasing the fall colors, with a beautiful blend of flavors. It's so delightful!

I also often take advantage of things grown in my garden.
So instead of 2 large store bought carrots, I will have 7 or 8 smaller garden carrots.
Always, always, always feel free to add or subtract ingredients for your family's needs and tastes! (I feel like that should go without saying.) And if you need to use up something and it might go with this, throw it in! However, if you follow this exactly, it's going to be pretty tasty.

Harvest Quinoa with Parmesan

1 c. quinoa
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. minced garlic*
1/2 small red diced onion
2 cubed small golden nugget squash
1 c. chopped kale
2 chopped celery stick
2 chopped carrots
5 chopped broccoli leaves**
 about 1/2 to 1 c. chopped red cabbage
To taste: oregano, basil, parsley, paprika, salt & pepper***
1/2 c. parmesan, and a little more to sprinkle on top

 * We LOVE garlic!!! I my have added even more than that... adjust accordingly.
**This was from my garden. We use what we have! You could also substitute spinach, use just kale, or add another cabbage variety or cook-able leafy green.
*** When I cook, I'm so bad about measuring. If it smells and tastes like it needs more, I add more! I probably put about 2 tsp. of each, possibly more.

1) You'll want to first cook your golden nugget squash.
I put both of mine on a cookie sheet in the oven at 350 for about 20 mins. You can also do this in the microwave. If you would like to try to peel it raw, you may. But it is SO much easier to cook a squash first before trying to remove the peel. (Trust me on this one.) When cooked and peeled, then cube.

2) Cook your quinoa just like how you make rice. Also like rice, it's 2 cups of water to every 1 cup quinoa. Don't forget to always rinse your grains, especially quinoa, as it has a bitter coating called saponin.

3) In a large skillet, warm olive oil to medium-high heat, then sauté your garlic and onions, until onions are beyond clear. Both should start to brown just a little at the edges, and start to caramelize. This is when these two little flavor powerhouses become divine!

4) Turn up the heat a little bit, and add your veggies!
Add your seasoning before the veggies really start cooking.
When the veggies have cooked down, and your quinoa is finished, add the quinoa to the skillet full of veggies, and mix it all together. Take a moment to admire the lovely fall colors all in one skillet!

5) At the last second, add your parmesan, and while stirring, let it melt into the rest of the dinner. Serve with a little extra sprinkle of parmesan on top.
Bon appetit!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I have had a lovely summer!
I have travelled almost as much as I've been home! Okay, well... that's an exaggeration, but I have been gone quite a bit. I've been to Gold Country California with my dad, Puget Sound & Seattle in Washington with my husband, the Willamette Valley to see friends, and camping last weekend with the hubby in the Cascades. 
And my summer's not over yet!
This week, a close friend and I are having a sister goddess camp out, and then the week after that, I'm off to the Valley again to visit my cousin before her baby shower.

As much as I'm a nester, I'm also an explorer.
I feel like I'm getting it all out of my system before the fall winds and winter snows come in, and then I will cozily hunker down with my knitting.

So, what do all these travels have to do with jam?
Glad you asked! ;)

On my trip to the Willamette Valley, my friend Denae and I went to a local farmers' market, where I picked up a half flat of raspberries.
There is nothing like fresh raspberries!
Right there, I determined I would make jam.

Since I had never made jam before, I went the easy route, and did freezer jam.
If you've never done canning, this is a good place to start, because you almost can't mess it up! I say almost, because you do have to use the recommended amount of sugar, or it won't set up. There are varieties that use less sugar, so look for those if that's what you so desire.

I found an instant pectin from Ball that you don't have to cook.
The flavor from the raspberries is so nicely fresh! This jam will be my little bit of summer to last me into the fall & winter months.

On the inside of the pectin label, they have this recipe:

For every pint of jam ~
1 2/3 c. of prepared fruit
2/3 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. Ball RealFruit Instant Pectin

If you are making peach jam ~
add 1 Tbsp. lemon juice

I substituted honey for sugar, which gave it a wonderful flavor.
For mixing the fruit, I just blended it up in my food processor.

The directions were so simple:
Mix the pectin and sugar.
Add the blended fruit. Stir 3 minutes.
Seriously... one of the most easy recipes ever!

First I made the Raspberry Honey Jam

Then I experimented with Raspberry Nectarine Honey Jam.
Oh yum! Make sure you add a little lemon juice for nectarines and peaches for the flavor.
The sweet & tart combo tastes like candy from a jar!

Your jam will keep in the freezer for a whole year.
However, I don't think it will last that long in our house.

My hubby is so happy! He LOVES jam!
(Anyone else think of John Watson just then? Just me... okay...)

He even bought more bread recently just so he could eat more jam.
This might become a problem... I guess only if he eats it all before I can get some.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013