Adaptable Recipes, Food Glorious Food, Makeover Monday Meals

Makeover Monday Meal-Holiday Weekend Edition

 

Labor Day is the unofficial end of summer. The kids are back in school. Fall is on the horizon. One of the things I love best about the fall is putting the oven on once again. After ditching it in favor of no-bake desserts and dinner on the grill, it’s nice to have the aroma of something delicious in the oven wafting through the house.

It was Google’s baking and cooking feed that led to finding this wonderful recipe for a perfect morning treat. 31 Daily, is a blog by Stephanie from Puget Sound is an author, publisher, and former television news writer and producer.  She describes this recipe as divine and she’s 100% correct. This donut is lovely and the perfect way to begin your morning or you can save it for your afternoon snack. The recipe is straightforward and since it’s baked and not deep-fried, it seems a little less guilty. The only special equipment needed is a donut pan to bake them.

To make sure as many of you can enjoy this, we have adapted the recipe for:

  • Vegan/Vegetarian
  • Gluten sensitivities or Celiac disease
  • Low Sugar

We hope you enjoy this recipe and make it this holiday weekend and many more weekday mornings. Enjoy in good health,

Double Chocolate Glazed Donuts recipe by 31 Daily adapted by Still A Chick Lit

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (gluten-free all-purpose flour, 1 to 1 gluten-free baking blend flour, sorghum, sweet rice, brown rice flour)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (vegan chocolate chips)
  • 1 large egg (2 tablespoons Aquafaba, 1/4 cup silken tofu pureed with 1/8 teaspoon baking soda, 1 flaxseed or chia seed egg, or vegan egg replacer)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (Swerve brown sugar substitute, organic brown sugar, turbinado sugar)
  • 1/3 cup milk (dairy: whole, 2%, fat-free) (non-dairy almond, rice, soy, or light coconut milk)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (dairy: light sour cream, plain yogurt, plain Greek yogurt, whole milk or low-fat, do not use fat-free) (non-dairy: almond or coconut yogurt, vegan sour cream)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (unsalted vegan butter)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vinegar

CHOCOLATE GLAZE

  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons cream or milk (dairy light cream whipping cream) (non-dairy coconut or almond milk)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (vegan butter)

 

  • If you would like to add more fiber use 2/3 cup all-purpose flour and 1/3 cup white whole wheat flour
  • If you don’t have instant espresso, you can use regular instant coffee or 1 teaspoon of strong brewed coffee
  • If using turbinado sugar, pulse it in a food processor a couple of times to give it a finer texture. Turbinado sugar can have more of a rock candy type of consistency.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a donut pan with oil or butter; set aside.
  2. Make the donuts: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, espresso powder, and chocolate chips. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg with brown sugar until well mixed. Add the milk, sour cream, melted butter, vanilla, and vinegar; whisk to combine.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and stir until just combined. The batter will be thick. Using a spatula transfer the batter to a piping bag or zip-top plastic bag. If you don’t have either, a spoon will do just fine! Cut off the tip of the piping bag or plastic bag and fill donut cavities with batter until 3/4 full.
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the donuts comes out clean. Let the donuts cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Make the chocolate glaze: Microwave the chocolate, cream, and butter in 30-second intervals, stirring in between until melted. Or use a double boiler and melt the chocolate, stirring until smooth. Once the donuts are completely cool (this only takes a few minutes), dip the tops of the donuts into the chocolate glaze and place them on a rack to set. While the chocolate is still wet, add sprinkles or other decorations to the top.

 

TO STORE:

The donuts are best on the day they are made. If you have any leftovers, store them in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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For more about 31 Daily visit

https://www.31daily.com/

Adaptable Recipes, Food Glorious Food, Makeover Monday Meals

Makeover Monday Meal- Dinner Edition Unstuffed Peppers Skillet

 

 

 

We are always on the lookout for delicious recipes to start your week off right. To that end, we came across this lovely recipe by the Real mom Kitchen for an unstuffed peppers skillet. Many of us know and love a version of stuffed peppers made by our moms or grandmothers. The presentation was always as delightful to the eye as it was the palate.  Laura Powell’s unstuffed recipe is a great take on this classic.

To make this recipe a little more inclusive, we have adapted it for vegans and vegetarians too. Remember, you can season it your way. The seasonings used in Ms. Powell’s original recipe work nicely, but feel free to go with your own palate. It can easily be more Italian with the addition of dried oregano, basil, or parsley too. For an Indian flare, a little curry or Garam Masala might be nice. You get the idea, make it your way and enjoy.

Unstuffed peppers skillet recipe by Real Mom Kitchen adapted by Still A Chick Lit

 

3 bell peppers, diced (I used one green, 2 red)

1/2 onion, diced

1 lb ground beef or sausage (beef 80/20 or 85/15, 90/10) (Chicken: ½ pound ground chicken breast, ½ pound ground chicken) (Turkey: ½ pound ground turkey breast, ½ pound ground turkey)

(Beyond meat, ground, Gardein ground, Impossible Plant-Based Burger Ground, Farmland Protein, ground, Good and Gather, meatless beef style ground)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes

1 (14 oz) can beef broth (chicken or vegetable unsalted stock)

1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce

1 tsp salt

pepper, to taste

1/2 tsp sugar

1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 cup uncooked extra-long grain rice

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (Daiya cheddar cheese shreds or vegan cheese shreds of your choice)

additional diced peppers and/or green onion for garnish

3 tablespoons canola or olive oil, divided

INSTRUCTIONS

In a large skillet with 1 ½ tablespoon of oil, add onion and peppers and sauté until tender. Remove from the skillet and wipe clean. Brown the ground beef or sausage until cooked through. Drain off any excess fat, then add the vegetables back in. * If you are using chicken, turkey, use 1 ½ tablespoon of oil to cook the meat thoroughly until no longer pink.  For the vegan ground, you can cook the onions, peppers, and vegan ground together in the oil until the vegetables are tender.

Add garlic to the meat or meatless mixture and cook for a minute until fragrant. Drain off any excess grease (meat).

Add tomatoes, beef broth, tomato sauce, salt, pepper, sugar, Worcestershire, and rice to the skillet.

Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cover. Cook for about 20-30 minutes until moisture is absorbed and rice is tender. At 20 minutes check and give a stir and continue cooking if needed.

Once the rice is tender, sprinkle cheese over the mixture and cover to get the cheese melted.

Once melted garnish with chopped peppers and /or green onion and serve. Serves 4-6.

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Original recipe adapted from Real Mom Kitchen  http://www.realmomkitchen.com

Food Glorious Food, Makeover Monday Meals

Makeover Monday Meal-Veggie Edition

An Easy and tasty way to get more veggies in your family’s diet

 

July is nearly over, but as the calendar changes to August with the heat still on in much of the country, you want to keep your time in the kitchen to a minimum.  This recipe comes courtesy of my sister, who spotted it in her Google feed just before Independence Day.

The recipe for this Cowboy Caviar is from the Dinner At The Zoo Blog. It works great as an appetizer, with a salad, or your favorite tortilla chips. The recipe requires a little knife work, but you can find a number of the ingredients pre-chopped at most grocery stores.  Low-sodium versions of the canned beans are widely available too. If you aren’t a fan of cilantro, you can use parsley instead. If you like it hot, add more jalapenos. If you don’t like heat, leave it out. Play with the recipe until you get it to suit your palate.

 

It’s one healthy bite that I am sure you and your family will enjoy.

Prep Time 20 minutes

Cook Time 1 minute

Total Time 21 minutes

Servings 8

Cowboy Caviar by Dinner at the Zoo

Ingredients

1 can of black beans rinsed and drained (low-sodium)

1 can black-eyed peas rinsed and drained (low-sodium)

1 cup tomatoes seeded and finely diced (plum, cherry, grape tomatoes are great to use)

1 jalapeno seeded and finely diced

1 cup corn can be fresh, canned, or thawed from frozen

1 avocado chopped

3/4 cup red and/or orange bell pepper seeded and finely diced

1/2 cup red onion finely diced

1/3 cup cilantro leaves chopped

1/3 cup olive oil

1/4 cup lime juice

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Place the beans, black-eyed peas, tomatoes, jalapeno, corn, avocado, bell pepper, onion, and cilantro in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, honey, chili powder, cumin and salt, and pepper.

Pour the dressing over the bean mixture and toss gently to coat. Serve as a salad or with chips.

Notes

Make-ahead instructions: Assemble according to instructions, except omit the avocado. Refrigerate for up to 8 hours. Add the avocado right before serving.

 

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Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

Monday Meal Makeover

https://stillachicklit.com/food/

Welcome to the premier posting for Monday Meal Makeover. Here we will try to up your Monday meal game for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, or snacks. All the recipes that can be adapted will include:

  • Vegetarian
  • Vegan
  • Gluten-Free, Celiac Disease
  • Low Sugar/ Low Carb
  • No Sugar
  • Lactose Intolerance/Egg Allergies

For what I hope will be the first of many, welcome to the first Monday Meal Makeover.

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Blueberry Muffins by Tastes Better From Scratch adapted by Chamein Canton

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (gluten-free all-purpose flour, 1 to 1 gluten-free baking blend, sorghum, millet, sweet or brown rice flour)

3/4 cup granulated sugar (Swerve sweetener, Splenda granulated, coconut, raw cane, or turbinado sugar, pulsed fine)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons grated lemon or orange zest

1/3 cup oil (vegetable or canola oil)

1 large egg (2 tablespoons Aquafaba, ¼ cup silken tofu pureed with 1/8 teaspoon baking soda, 1 flaxseed or chia seed egg, or egg replacer)

1/3 cup buttermilk (dairy: full-fat, low-fat, or light)  (non-dairy: almond, rice, soy, or light coconut milk with 1 teaspoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, mixed. Let stand for at least five minutes before using)

1 teaspoon vanilla

¼ teaspoon lemon or orange extract, optional

1 cup blueberries , fresh or frozen

Crumb topping:

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar (Swerve sweetener, Splenda granulated, coconut, raw cane, or turbinado sugar pulsed fine)

2 Tablespoons light brown sugar (Swerve brown sugar substitute, organic light brown sugar)

2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour (gluten-free all-purpose flour, 1 to 1 gluten-free baking blend, sorghum, millet, sweet or brown rice flour)

2 Tablespoons cold unsalted or salted butter, chopped (vegan unsalted or salted butter)

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a standard size muffin tin with liners, or grease well with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, salt, orange or lemon zest, and baking powder. 

Add oil, egg, buttermilk, vanilla, and orange or lemon extract (if using), and mix just until combined. Don’t over mix (the batter doesn’t need to be “smooth”) 

Toss the blueberries in a spoonful of flour. This will help them not to sink to the bottom of the muffin. Gently fold blueberries into the batter.  

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. 

If you are making the crumb topping:

Add all of the ingredients to a bowl. Use your fingers, pastry cutter, or a fork to work the butter into the mixture. 

Sprinkle crumb mixture over the tops of muffins in the pan.

Bake for about 5 minutes at 400-degrees, then reduce the temperature to 375-degrees. Bake for about 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with just a few crumbs. 

Remove muffins from oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes

  • The bake time may vary by ovens. It may take a little longer or a shorter time depending on your oven. I tend to err on the side of a toothpick coming out clean or with a few crumbs when inserted in the center of the muffins.
  • I don’t recommend using shortening or butter-flavor shortening. It makes the batter heavier and the muffins oily.

Dinner

Cast Iron Roasted Chicken- Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen adapted by me

1 whole chicken. Fryer or young chicken

Canola or vegetable oil

This is the seasoning rub I use, adapt it to your likes and measure it out to the size of the chicken.

Paprika sweet or smoked

Onion powder

Granulated garlic

Black pepper

Chili powder

Kosher salt

Remove the chicken back. Set aside to make stock

Combine the seasoning in a bowl

Tie the legs together with kitchen twine.

Season the chicken skin side down

Place into a cast iron skillet

Make sure the skin of the chicken is dry. Rub the skin with oil. Season liberally and tuck the wings underneath. Roast In hot oven 450-475. Make sure there’s about seven inches from the rack to the top of the oven.

Roast for about 1 hour. It could be more or less depending upon your oven. So keep a watchful eye. The temp of the chicken should be about 160-165 degrees from the thickest part of the chicken.

Barbecue Sauce

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion finely chopped

3 cloves of chopped garlic

1 cup of ketchup

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/4 cup molasses * (sorghum syrup)

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar

2 teaspoons Worcestershire

1 teaspoon mustard powder

pinch of cayenne

1 tablespoon chili powder

pinch of allspice

In a saucepan over medium heat, saute onions until tender, about four to five minutes. Add garlic, and stir for one minute. Add the tomato paste, and carmelize it stirring for two minutes. Add the ketchup, molasses, cider vinegar, and brown sugar. Stir for one minute. Add the chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, pinch of cayenne, and allspice. Stir. Add 1/4 cup water and cook stirring for four minutes until thickened. Take the sauce off the heat and let cool. Blend with an immersion blender until smooth. You can also use a blender or food processor, but be sure it’s cool. It will make for quite the science lesson and a mess.

  • Spruce Eats list of molasses substitutes

If you don’t have molasses, you can make one of several quick substitutes. Replace one cup of molasses with one of the following: 1 cup dark corn syrup, honey, or maple syrup. 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/4 cup water

These substitutions may alter the taste of your recipe a bit. If the molasses flavor is vital to the success of your recipe, try the brown sugar substitute. Since brown sugar is granulated sugar and molasses it’ll be the closest flavor match. Maple syrup or dark corn syrup would be the next best choice.

If you have to use granulated sugar or honey as the substitute, consider increasing the spices in the recipe a bit to make up for the flavors that the molasses would have contributed.

Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

Strawberry Cheesecake Forever

Besides more daylight hours, spring is also a time when the fare at the table gets lighter (relatively speaking). Spring vegetables like artichokes, spinach, fava beans, and asparagus have recurring roles on many dinner tables. With swimsuit season a mere few months away, many of us are trying to incorporate more vegetables and fruits into our diets. That doesn’t mean the food can’t be tasty or that we must forgo all things sweet.

Spring fruits like pineapples and apricots, add a nice bit of sweetness to any dessert or on their own, but as wonderful as these fruits are, they still stand in the shadow of strawberries. This heart-shaped berry is packed with vitaminsfiber, and has a high level of antioxidants. They don’t contain sodium, are fat and cholesterol-free. According to WebMD, strawberries are a good source of manganese and potassium. They’re also quite versatile. Add them to your favorite yogurt, plain with a little unsweetened whipped cream, or add them to a salad for a pop of color and taste.

Nevertheless, the most popular way to enjoy strawberries is as a dessert. Strawberry shortcake, tarts, pies, and trifles are delicious. Then there’s strawberry cheesecake. I’ve found that like carrot cake, cheesecake tends to be a dessert people either love or loathe, with very little middle-ground, that is until you add strawberries.

There is something about a strawberry cheesecake that seems to defy convention. Usually made with cream cheese or even mascarpone cheese, it has a silky, fluffy, cloud-like texture. You barely chew it, and if you are like me, I can justify calories I don’t chew. How else can I order a caramel macchiato and still call it just coffee.

Although I don’t need an excuse to make a strawberry cheesecake, I made one in time for Easter, but this is a recipe you can use all summer, it’s a no-bake and doesn’t require much hands-on time making it. I love to be sure everyone who would like to make this can. So, there are adaptations in the recipes for different dietary needs, including gluten-free, low-sugar, and no sugar versions.

Strawberry Cheesecake

1 Graham cracker ready-made pie shell (Oreo ready-made pie shell, Gluten-free graham cracker ready-made pie shell

1 lb strawberries* cored and sliced

¼ cup white sugar (Swerve sweetener, Splenda granulated, coconut, raw cane, or turbinado sugar, pulsed finely)

1 package gelatin* (2 ½ teaspoons agar-agar powder)

1 ¼ cups whipping cream (full-fat coconut milk)

24 oz cream cheese* full-fat, brick-style (for lighter cheesecake, you can use 2 ½ packages of light cream cheese and  ½ package or 4 ounces of full-fat cream cheese) (non-dairy 2 ½ packages of Violife Cream Cheese, or Miyoko’s vegan cream cheese plus 4 ounces of full-fat coconut cream, you will need the vegan cream cheese to be softened. Once the coconut cream has separated from the full-fat coconut milk, beat it into the vegan cream cheese until light)

¾ cup powdered sugar (organic confectioner’s sugar or Swerve confectioner’s sugar substitute)

To Serve (Optional)

whipped cream

sliced strawberries

Instructions

Cheesecake Filling

Puree the strawberries in a food processor or blender.

Push the puree through a sieve to remove the seeds. (Optional, but recommended). 

Add the puree to a medium saucepan with the white sugar and bring to a gentle boil while stirring. You will need to continue stirring. It will begin to thicken and it will reduce to  about ½ of the original volume (about ¾ cup when it’s finished boiling). 

Sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the boiling strawberry mixture. Remove from the heat and give the mixture a stir to ensure it’s dissolved.  If you are using agar-agar powder, mix the powder into ¼ cup of water. Let it stand for ten minutes. When the strawberry mixture begins to boil, add the agar-agar to the mixture, stir well and remove from the heat. Stir until agar-agar is dissolved and let cool to about room temperature, don’t put it in the fridge.

In a large bowl beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks form.

In a separate bowl beat together the cream cheese and powdered sugar until softened.

Carefully, beat in the cooled strawberry mixture into the cream cheese a little at a time. You can do this through a sieve as well to make the strawberry mixture is smooth.  Ensure it is fully cooled first.

Gently fold in the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until it’s even.

Spoon the mixture on top of the crust, smooth the top, and place in the fridge to set for 6 hours.

Serving

When ready to serve, remove the cheesecake from the fridge.

Optionally, decorate the cheesecake with whipped cream and strawberries.

Slice with a very thin, sharp knife ensuring to cut all the way through the crust.

Notes

Frozen berries work too. You’ll need approximately 4 cups sliced strawberries. 

One envelope of gelatin is about 2 ¼ teaspoons. It should be enough to set 2 cups (500 mL) of liquid. 

Cream cheese should be softened to room temperature before getting started. 

Store leftovers covered in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

Spring is in the air again. Why not put blueberry muffins on the table?

https://stillachicklit.com/for-serious-foodies/

The first week after Daylight Savings Time is usually pretty hard for most people. However, the arrival of spring helps make the time change a little more bearable. The days are longer and we begin to see more spring vegetables and fruits in the market.

I love blueberries. They are rich in antioxidants, sweet, and a good source of fiber. I am always on the hunt for a good blueberry muffin recipe. Luckily, the majority of the recipes I’ve tried have turned out well.

I’m sharing this recipe from the Life Made Simple blog. I adapted it for vegetarians, vegans, gluten-sensitivities, low and no-sugar diets. It’s a tasty way to get more fiber in your family’s diets. I hope you try this recipe for one fine spring morning at your home.

Blueberry muffins by Life Made Simple adapted by me

 INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (gluten-free all-purpose flour, 1 to 1 gluten-free baking blend, sorghum, or brown rice flour)

1/2 cup cake flour ( ½ cup gluten-free all-purpose less 3 tablespoons, then add 3 tablespoons gluten-free cornstarch, sift together)

1 cup sugar (Swerve sweetener, Splenda granulated, coconut, raw cane, or turbinado sugar, pulsed fine)

1/4 cup vegetable oil – or coconut oil

4 tbsp unsalted butter – melted (vegan unsalted butter)

3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk (3/4 cup of soy, rice, almond, oat, or light coconut milk with 1 ½ teaspoons of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice, combine and let stand for five minutes before using)

2 eggs ( ¼ cup Aquafaba, ½ cup silken tofu pureed with ¼ teaspoon baking soda, 2 flaxseed or chia seed eggs, or vegan egg replacer)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp baking powder

11/2 tsp vanilla extract

zest of 2 lemons or the zest of 1 lemon and 2 teaspoons of orange zest

1 1/4 cup blueberries – fresh or frozen

3 tbsp coarse sugar or raw cane sugar – optional topping

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 12 standard muffin cups with liners.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, lightly beat together oil, butter, vanilla, eggs, and milk.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest, and salt.

With mixing speed on low, slowly add dry ingredients. Mix until combined.

Remove bowl from stand, gently fold in blueberries. Scoop batter into prepared muffin cups, filling 2/3 of the way full. Sprinkle with sanding sugar.

Place into oven and bake for 24-30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Place muffins on wire rack to cool completely.

  • Notes
  • I used a combination of orange and lemon zest in this recipe. I also prefer adding the zest to the flour. I find that even when you mix the wet ingredients well, the zest has a habit of clumping together. If you add the zest to the flour mixture, it gets evenly distributed, and you don’t run the risk of clumps or over-stirring your batter.

Recipe adapted from Life Made Simple blog

Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

Fighting for my right to write in peace

Whether it was life before Covid-19, most of us probably had some issues carving out time for ourselves. Although, I am very sure that men have as much responsibility and pressures as women, when dad sets aside time and he doesn’t want to be bothered, people listen. As a daughter, girlfriend, significant other, and fiancée I tried and still try not to bother the man in my life when he needs to work, write, or watch football, NCAA basketball, or the PGA,

I have found that as a woman I have a harder time setting those boundaries, but I won’t blame all of it on everyone else. I’ve been at my mother’s (whom I refer to as her mothership) and she tends to walk in while I’m writing and start talking or telling me about something that she wants me to do. Instead of telling her to please give me a moment, I am an oldest child. Most firstborns are what I like to call starter children. We are the kids parents get to practice on until they figure out their parenting style. Traditional, bohemian, militant, or a combination thereof. We are the ones who weather the trial period. That is not to say that we don’t have a right to ask for a little time to ourselves as adults, but it can get a little tricky.

All of that aside, writing is a part of my life every day. Even when I don’t have a pen and paper in hand, I’m thinking about different topics, memories, or funny stories I’d like to incorporate in a blog post or as a part of a novel, or the cookbook I’m working on about my grandmothers’ and their cooking.

More than that, writing is more than just thoughts on paper, it’s the way I can redirect nervous energy when I’m worried. It’s also the way I’ve been able to deal with MS for the past twenty-five years. Chronic diseases and conditions like MS can engulf your life. It can dominate every corner if you let it. My dad told me when I was first hit with the diagnosis, that as long as I had MS, it could never have me. I’ve lived by that creed ever since and it has served me well, in addition to saving me from going into a self-pity hole.

That is why I believe that it’s important to fight for your right to write. If you’re a writer, it’s a part of who you are, which is an artist. And artists over many different mediums from paint to clay to, cameras to musical instruments and more need to exercise that right to keep it strong. Whatever moves you to write, scope out the place and set the time aside for yourself.

Part of my right to writer includes being in the kitchen, which includes going into the test kitchen to work on recipes. I love to work on adaptations of recipes to be sure it’s tasty enough to pass muster. To that end, I am posting a recipe for shepherd’s pie with meat and vegan ground meat. This is a recipe I came across in my Google feed, I’ve tweaked it a bit.

Shepherd’s Pie

Meat Filling:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup chopped yellow onion

1 lb. 90% lean ground beef -or ground lamb

2 teaspoons dried parsley leaves

2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 garlic cloves -minced

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (gluten-free all-purpose or 1 to 1 gluten-free baking blend)

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup beef broth

1 cup frozen mixed peas & carrots*

1/2 cup frozen corn kernels

Vegan Meat Filling

1 pound or package of Vegan ground meat Impossible Burger Ground, Farmland Protein Starters, Good and Gather Ground, Gardein The Ultimate Beefless Ground

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup chopped yellow onion

2 teaspoons dried parsley leaves

2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon Vegan Worcestershire sauce

2 garlic cloves -minced

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup vegetable broth

1 cup frozen mixed peas & carrots*

1/2 cup frozen corn kernels

Potato Topping:

1 1/2 – 2 lb. russet potatoes -about 2 large potatoes peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes

8 tablespoons unsalted butter -1 stick (vegan butter, margarine)

1/3 cup half & half (rice or soy milk)

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 cup parmesan cheese (Thrive Vegan Parmesan-Style Cheese Alternative, Follow Your Heart Dairy-Free Shredded Parmesan, Vegan Soy Free Grated Parmesan Style Topping)

Instructions

Make the Meat or Vegan Meat Filling.

Add the oil to a large skillet and place it over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add the onions. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the ground beef (or ground lamb or vegan ground) to the skillet and break it apart with a wooden spoon. Add the parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper. Stir well. Cook for 6-8 minutes, until the meat is browned, stirring occasionally.

Add the Worcestershire sauce and garlic. Stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute.

Add the flour and tomato paste. Stir until well incorporated and no clumps of tomato paste remain.

Add the broth, frozen peas and carrots, and frozen corn. Bring the liquid to a boil then reduce to simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Set the meat mixture aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Make the potato topping.

Place the potatoes in a large pot. Cover the potatoes with water. Bring the water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are fork tender, 10-15 minutes.

Drain the potatoes in a colander. Return the potatoes to the hot pot. Let the potatoes rest in the hot pot for 1 minute to evaporate any remaining liquid.

Add butter, half & half, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Mash the potatoes and stir until all the ingredients are mixed together.

Add the parmesan cheese to the potatoes. Stir until well combined.

Assemble the casserole.

Pour the meat mixture into a 9×9 (or 7×11) inch baking dish. Spread it out into an even layer. Spoon the mashed potatoes on top of the meat. Carefully spread into an even layer.

If the baking dish looks very full, place it on a rimmed baking sheet so that the filling doesn’t bubble over into your oven. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes.** Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Notes

*You could use 1/2 cup frozen peas and 1/2 cup frozen sliced carrots.

Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

Taking the garden path in 2021 and what’s better than a revenge body

I am still not one for resolutions. To me, the minute folks mention the word, it begins the usual graph chart. Most people are highly motivated in the beginning, then after a few weeks their enthusiasm wanes as winter’s long dark nights take a toll on workout schedules. Finally, most people drop off the chart altogether.

The better idea to me is substitutions instead of resolutions. You can begin making the changes you want to see in yourself by changing your mind set. The focus should be on a healthy body, mind, and spirit. I hear a lot about revenge bodies from people who want to get some sort of cosmic payback on an ex. Since revenge is defined as the action of inflicting hurt or harm on someone for an injury or wrong suffered at their hands. To me, that means it steeped in hate.

The word to substitute in place of revenge is empathy. Although usually applied to others, t it’s important that we empathize with ourselves and come from a place of love. The best revenge might be looking good, but , loving, looking and feeling good about yourself, can’t be topped and unlike revenge, can be served cold, hot, or never.

Now many of us north of forty and fifty chicks are making changes in our diets include more vegetables and/or lean proteins. A salad can combine the best of both in a bowl or on a plate topped with homemade dressing that allows you to control the sodium, sugar, and taste.

One of the most raved about salad dressing is from the Olive Garden. Many people love to fill up on their soup and salad. To that end, I discovered a copycat recipe for it some years ago that I have tweaked a bit. However, you can feel free to make it to your taste.

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

3 small or 2 large garlic cloves

2 tablespoons Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon sugar (optional)

1/4 cup fresh grated or shredded Parmesan Reggiano (Follow Your Heart Dairy-Free Parmesan, Go Veggie Vegan Parmesan grated, Go Veggie Vegan Soy-free Parmesan grated topping, Violife Parmesan Wedge)

2 tablespoons Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (Field Roast Chao Cheese Creamy is the closest in mimicking the funky saltiness of romano.)

3 tablespoons mayonnaise (regular, light, vegan, olive oil)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a small food processor or mini-chop, pulse the garlic a few times. Add the vinegar and lemon juice. If using sugar, add it with the Italian seasoning, parmesan, Romano, and mayonnaise. Pulse the mixture a few times. Then with the processor running, pour the olive oil. The dressing will appear thick. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your taste.

  • If you don’t want to use Romano cheese, you can add more parmesan cheese
  • Asiago, Grana Padano, or even Taleggio cheese are great substitutes. Use the kind of cheese you prefer
Adaptable Recipes, Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

A sweet way to celebrate Chanukah and the holidays with the kids

If you are like me, when you get up in the morning you feel like you did any other day when you were say thirty-three. In my mind that’s how old I am. Then I get up in three moves more like a faulty lawn chair, than a nimble thirty-something. However, there is a bright side for those of us who are north of forty and fifty plus. We are at an age when we can enjoy children as parents, or as dare I say Glam-parents. I have yet to find the appropriate word that doesn’t evoke visions of rocking chairs and knitting needles. Although, I have a few friends who have been creative when it comes to how their precious grandchildren refer to them. One of my favorites is Gigi.

That said, it’s the time of year when all the wonder of the world is in a child’s eyes. Granted, we are in the midst of some very trying times with the pandemic, but we can find ways to share the joy with our families, show our love, and face these challenges with resilience. One way to do that is in the kitchen. This recipe is for Sufganiyah. It is a round jelly doughnut eaten in Israel and around the world on the Jewish festival of Hanukkah. The doughnut is deep-fried in oil, filled with jam or custard, and then topped with powdered sugar. The doughnut recipe originated in Europe in the 1500s and by the 1800s was known as a Berliner in Germany.

The recipe for Sufganiyot is from The Children’s Jewish Holiday Kitchen by J Nathan. It was released by Random House in 1995. I’ve adapted the recipe for other dietary needs like gluten-sensitivities, low or no sugar diets, vegetarians and vegans.

Sufganiyah or Sufganiyot recipe by J Nathan adapted by me

INGREDIENTS

  1. 1 scant tablespoon (1 package) dry yeast
    4 tablespoons sugar (Swerve sweetener, Splenda granulated, Golden sugar, coconut, turbinado, or raw cane sugar pulsed, )
    3/4 cup lukewarm milk or warm water* (dairy: whole, or 3/4 cup of 2% plus 2 tablespoons of half and half or light cream) (almond, soy, rice, or light coconut milk)
    2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (gluten-free all-purpose flour, sorghum, brown or sweet rice flour, almond flour works when combined 1 1/2 cups almond flour plus 1/2 cup corn flour)
    Pinch of salt
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    2 eggs, separated (for the yolks 1/2 cup silken tofu plus 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, or 2 tablespoons of soy lecithin) (whites 1/4 cup Aquafaba)
    2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter or pareve margarine, softened* (vegan butter or margarine)
    Apricot or strawberry preserves
    Sugar (Granulated or confectioner’s sugar, Swerve confectioner’s sugar substitute)
    Vegetable oil for deep-frying

*Use butter and milk if serving at a milk meal, and water and pareve margarine for a meat meal

  • The reason for the use of the combination of almond flour and cornflour is so that the doughnuts will be light and airy. Almond flour is essentially ground almonds and nuts don’t lend easily to being fried. The addition of cornflour lightens it to make it easier to fry. You can also use arrowroot.

PREPARATION

Child: Mix together the yeast, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, and the milk. Let sit to make sure it bubbles.
Child: Sift the flour and mix it with the remaining sugar, salt, cinnamon, egg yolks, and the yeast mixture.
Adult with Child: Knead the dough until it forms a ball. Add the butter or margarine. Knead some more, until the butter is well absorbed. Cover with a towel and let rise overnight in the refrigerator.
Adult: Roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/8 inch.
Child: Cut out the dough into 24 rounds with a juice glass, or any object about 2 inches in diameter. Take 1/2 teaspoon of preserves and place in the center of 12 rounds. Top with the other 12. Press down at edges, sealing with egg whites. Crimping with the thumb and second finger is best. Let rise for about 30 minutes.
Adult: Heat 2 inches of oil to about 375°. Drop the doughnuts into the hot oil, about 5 at a time. Turn to brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels.
Child: Roll the doughnuts in sugar.