07-08-2014

Brownie Ice Cream Pie

Ever made brownies that were just a tad crumbly or have more cookies on hand than you should could eat? Or, ever purchased way too much ice cream for the 4th because of that buy one get one sale?

IMG_6633

Well here, my friends, is the solution!

This was inspired by a much cleaner, more holistic Dessert Pizza by Angela at Oh She Glows. My version is definitely not clean eating or refined sugar free or any vegan thingamadoey. One day I do hope to try out Angela’s Dessert Pizza but yesterday I needed to use up some brownies and the over indulging ice cream that wouldn’t stop enticing me. It didn’t hurt that it was also Jared’s birthday and I was able to make a birthday dessert for him with ingredients I already had on hand.

IMG_6628

Ingredients
1 batch of already made brownies or chocolate chip cookies
1 pint chocolate ice cream, slightly chilled (not frozen)
1 pint vanilla ice cream, slightly chilled (not frozen)
1 batch Peanut Butter Shell Drizzle (from Oh She Glows)
1 batch Chocolate Ice Cream Shell
coconut oil

Recipe
Using a teaspoon of coconut oil, lightly grease the bottom & sides of a springform pan.

Crumble brownies or cookies onto bottom of springform pan. Using your palms, press the mixture down firmly and spread to sides of pan.

In a glass bowl, stir together the chocolate and vanilla ice creams until swirled together. Pour ice cream mixture onto the top of the brownie crust. Place ice cream pie into freezer and allow to freeze for 10-15 minutes.

Make one batch each of the peanut butter drizzle and chocolate ice cream shell. Place the peanut butter drizzle into a plastic zipper top bag and snip the corner. (This makes for easier drizzling! The chocolate syrup can easily be drizzled with a fork.)

Alternating between the peanut butter and chocolate toppings, drizzle each sweet concoction onto the top of the ice cream pie. Once all the toppings have been used up, place the pie back into freezer for at least 4 hours for everything to set nicely up.

Scrumptious!

resize

 

Enjoy ~

sig

 

07-03-2014

Heirloom Cherry Tomato and Mozzarella Skewers with Balsamic Vinegar

Looking for a quick & easy appetizer for the 4th of July? This tasty hor d’oeuvre is so simple to put together that I feel silly even typing up a recipe. But hopefully these tips & tricks will make this dish sublime!

IMG_2587

 

Ingredients
2 pints heirloom cherry tomatoes (a mix of different hues if possible)
1 lb of fresh mozzarella balls
extra virgin olive oil
balsamic vinegar
kosher or sea salt
fresh ground black pepper
fresh basil leaves (optional)

Recipe Tips & Tricks

Slice cherry tomatoes in half and place in glass bowl along with the mozzarella balls. Drizzle with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and then sprinkle on a generous teaspoon or two of kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper. Allow the ingredients to sit for 5 to 10 minutes.

What you are doing is helping draw the water out of the tomatoes and adding a salty brined flavor. This is what is going to make the dish out of this world! If you don’t salt & pepper the tomatoes for just 5 minutes prior to assembling, they just aren’t going to taste the same.

Using skewers, alternate adding tomatoes & mozzarella as you see fit! Add in whole leaves of basil for a great caprese salad appetizer. Or, you could chiffonade (aka…slice it pretty!) the basil and scatter on top but I think you’ll have more punch by leaving the basil leaves whole.

Next, drizzle olive oil & plenty of balsamic vinegar all over the concoction. Finally, add a generous sprinkling of kosher salt & fresh ground pepper. Make sure to sneak a taste to ensure the flavor is vibrant. If not, guess what…add more salt & pepper and another splash (or two) of balsamic vinegar!

IMG_2589Happy 4th of July!! I hope everyone has a great time celebrating, shooting off fire works, and eating plenty of sweet summertime food!

sig

07-01-2014

A Wake Up Call

DSC_0088

I’m highly embarrassed to admit but…five years ago, I sat on a berber carpeted floor discussing vacation bible school with other church volunteers and I said…well what really matters most are the snacks!

And last year…vacation bible school was about the break i’d get from my 2 kids because finally, finally my youngest could attend.

SERIOUSLY???

So it was a big wake up call when a cousin of mine posted recently on facebook that his church had 61 kids attend the past week of vbs and most importantly…1 child accepted Christ as his Savior.

Made me think, what in the h*** is wrong with me? That VBS is this thing about animal crackers or getting a break from your kids? That isn’t it, Jessica.

It’s about winning kids to Christ. It’s imparting scripture in a 6 year old so that when he gets home and mom & dad don’t get along, he reads Psalms 56: 3-4 and says a prayer to God to keep him safe and calm. It’s teaching a 9 year old that honoring Christ is being kind to that kid on the playground who doesn’t have anyone to play with.

VBS is, can be, and should be…So MUCH MORE than free baby sitting. That 1 kid that chose to believe in Christ, to have faith in God…THAT, that’s what it’s about.

Sometimes I forget that kids can grasp way more than we think they can. I think they are too young to read them scripture straight from the Word or to explain what it means to be a Christian. Sure, they’ll ask questions I don’t always know the answer to. But they will probably actually have the faith that Christ was seeking as He said, “Let the little children come to me…for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” It’s me, with my super charged adult analysis, that has a hard time grasping the concept of faith. Not the kid who says “I do believe in Christ and want HIM as my Lord, as who I follow.”

Hmmm…not even sure how to close this post…but I’m thankful, so thankful, for this realization. How often do I see Sunday school, vbs, or child care during a Bible study as just that… just child care. But it’s not just that.

IMG_4644

“And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed, and when you are getting up.” Deut. 6: 6-7

sig

05-05-2014

Gourmet Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

It sure is hard being a food blogger’s kid!

I need to remind my kids constantly how lucky they are that baking and making unique eats is daily enjoyment in our house.

Yesterday we made these. If you aren’t salivating, you should be. So rich, so creamy, so delish!

IMG_6015
I followed the Raw Chocolate PB Cups recipe from Sarah @ The Sweet Life but did cheat and use semi-sweet chocolate chips & homemade pb. Still ooey-gooey goodness! Next time I think I’ll try sprinkling the top chocolate with a tiny pinch of sea salt prior to freezing. The contrasting taste of salt & sweet would make these sublime! (I used 1 & 1/4 cup of choc chips and was able to make 16 cups. Make sure to reserve enough chocolate for the top layer!)
IMG_6016
IMG_6003

These would make a great surprise treat after school!

Enjoy ~

sig

05-04-2014

Lowcountry Giving Day

It’s a pretty awesome day when you find out that $1.5 Million dollars in matching gifts have been pledged to local Lowcountry charities!

And when you do the math…matching means double your gift…so basically $3 Million dollars could be poured into our community this Tuesday!

Embedded image permalink

This Tuesday, May 6, Coastal Community Foundation is taking part in #givelocalamerica #lowcountrygivingday for a 24 hour online fundraising campaign. There are almost 100 local non-profits that will benefit from this fundraising effort. In order for your donation to be matched, it must be made directly at Lift The Lowcountry.

So get ready to make a donation this Tuesday, May 6 to the charities that touch your heart.

sig

04-02-2014

Spelt Cornbread Muffins

When it comes to gluten free & egg yolk less baking, there are lots more failures than successes, it seems. At least in my kitchen there are! This past weekend I managed to glue the waffle maker stuck, no joke, when I tried to make yolk-less waffles!

But recently, I have had lots of luck replacing whole wheat pastry flour with a mixture of spelt & tapioca flours.

IMG_5747

 

These cornbread muffins were so delightful after numerous failures in the kitchen. They have a tender crumb, are moist, and have great corn flavor. I found the recipe in a vegan cookbook, as I’ve decided baking egg-yolk-less would be easiest if I simply followed vegan recipes. This is from Isa Does It and will be a recipe I use frequently. The only difference I made was substituting spelt & tapioca flour for the whole wheat pastry flour she calls for.

Tips & Tricks ~
I am just guessing here…but I think baking these directly in the muffin pans sans muffin liners is what creates the crust you are seeking in corn muffins. If you oil the pan well, you should have no problem in the clean-up! Use white (or sometimes called light) spelt flour to have a less dense muffin.

Spelt Cornbread Muffins
1 cup almond milk
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup + 2 tsp white spelt flour
2 Tbsp tapioca flour
1 cup self rising corn meal
1/3 cup coconut sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp refined coconut oil, melted
2 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
1 cup corn kernels (optional & if using frozen, thaw first)

Preheat the oven to 350degrees. Lightly coat a 12 cup muffin pan with canola oil or cooking spray.

In a small bowl, combine the milk and vinegar, setting aside for atleast 2 minutes to curdle.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flours, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In the small bowl of milk, stir in the melted coconut oil and applesauce. Make a well in the bottom of the dry ingredients. Pour liquid ingredients into the well of dry ingredients. Mix together the dry & wet ingredients just until the dry ingredients are incorporated. Be careful to not overmix as this minimizes how much muffins rise.

Fill muffin pans with batter and bake in preheated oven for approximately 18 minutes. Remove from oven and insert a spoon around the edges to help muffins be easily removed.

IMG_5746

Enjoy! And may we all have more successes in the kitchen this week than failures!

sig

 

03-31-2014

A21 Campaign – The Campaign Against Human Trafficking

I’m not sure when my interest in it began. Or where I first heard about it.

A21-PSL-Option-3

 

 

 

 

 

But my interest in the sadness of human trafficking has been lurking in the foggy corners of my consciousness for quite a while.  It’s like the dirt you sweep under the rug when your friends come to call but no matter where you hide it, the dirt remains. It seems quite easy to sweep human injustice into the recessed corners of our minds. You tell yourself…It isn’t in my backyard, it happens to a different socioeconomic class, there’s nothing I can do to stop it from happening…all heaped upon excuses to keep our guilt at bay that we are only focused on moi.

At least, this is how it is for me. But sometimes you hear one to many times about an organization that wants to garner awareness & prevent human trafficking. You find out one of their 2 US locations happens to be in your backwoods. You are invited to attend a women’s conference where guess who…the ED of the organization will be the keynote speaker…you sit in church that next Sunday and the preacher talks about human trafficking occurring in SC not just the slums of India…you come across the speakers name time after time…all random occurrences, right? But finally, you wonder if it is God who has ignited this desire in your heart?

Even though I feel like I am only one person and keep asking myself what can one person really do to help…I am reminded that…We are only individuals when we think of ourselves as one person. But when joined together in a common cause, we are no longer just one person. 

So here are some interesting facts I’ve learned…

What is human trafficking?
It is the illegal bondage of a person…slavery…and normally results in forced labor and sex trafficking.

What is the average age of a victim?
12 YEARS OLD. That is astounding, so sad, makes me want to cry. I have friends with almost teenage daughters and the thought of them falling into a predators line of sight is sickening. It makes me want to go mama bear protecting on these girls who’ve been abused, hurt, stolen. Ahhh…it makes my heart ache.

This can’t affect that many people in the world, right?
Wrong….27 million people are estimated to be in bondage right now. 27 million!

So what can you do to help?
1. Become aware that this happens in our neighborhoods & towns just as much as in 3rd world countries. In just these first 3 months of 2014, Polaris Project has already received 897 calls from SC.  It occurs everywhere…truck stops for instance. Here is an interesting article of how it goes down at truck stops.

2. Listen to your intuition. If you see something odd or something just doesn’t seem right, do something about it. Make a phone call to authorities or 1-888-373-7888 (National Human Trafficking Resource Center).

3.  Make sure the teenagers in your life know how valuable they are, how loved they are, how special they are. Often traffickers choose victims who have little self value…telling them how beautiful they are, how much they are liked…and then in turn forcing them into prostitution or labor.

4. Write an encouraging card to a survivor of trafficking. These survivors need to know that they can do it, that they can survive the horrific experiences they have gone through. This only takes a few minutes of your day but could have a huge impact on a person’s life.

 No matter what the injustice in this world is that makes you see red, never believe you can’t make a difference! 

sig

 

 

03-21-2014

Eat Local Month

In case you can’t tell from my web address, I’m a local loving gal! Locally grown veggies, mom & pop stores, unique one of a kind events…those are the things that make my heart go pitter patter.

So how exciting is it that here in Charleston, April is EAT LOCAL MONTH! Lowcountry Local First encourages all of us lowcountry residers to put our $ where our mouth is. If you want access to locally grown food, then get out there and support our farmers and locally owned restaurants that source ingredients locally.

The overarching goal for the month is to take the Eat Local Challenge where you shift $10/week of your food budget to the local food system. That may not seem like much but when combined together we can make a huge influence to the Charleston food scene.

So go pick your own strawberries to make jam with, buy kale at the farmer’s market and make a kale smoothie, or get your cup o’ joe from the cooler coffee shop around the corner. 

Here are all the fun events that Lowcountry Local First is putting on ~

Tuesday, April 1 ~ SHOP AT WHOLE FOODS
5% of WF sales this day will go to LLF’s Sustainable Agriculture program

Tuesday, April 8 ~ Mt. Pleasant Farmer’s Market kicks off
My kids are literally counting down the hours until this awesome day. Their strategic line of attack for the Farmer’s Market…King of Pops first, kettle corn second…

Saturday, April 12 ~ Downtown Farmer’s Market  kicks off
Check out the LLF tent at a “PLOW TO CHOW” special event…and in case you’re scratching your head…a plow is what breaks the ground so you can plant seeds, work the land, break your back.

Saturday, April 19 ~ Lowcountry Farm Tours
Meander along dirt roads, breathe in the fresh air, snack on just picked strawberries, chat with the guys & gals operating the plows responsible for your chow.

Sunday, April 27 ~ Chef’s Potluck
Among the beautiful oaks at Middleton Place, nosh & sip on some of the finest ingredients the lowcountry has to offer, prepared by some of the best chef’s in the area.

And if you don’t live in Charleston, here is information on how to move to the coolest foodie town ever….

Ha ha! What I meant to say was…here is information on how to find a Live Local organization in your area.

sig

03-18-2014

Life ~ A Fleeting Glance

Metastatic Cancer, Stage 4, Inoperable…words you pray you never hear spoken. Words that shatter your world. Words that make you ponder just how much more He, God, will allow you to suffer? Wasn’t the Thursday evening phone call 3 years ago at 5:23 pm bad enough? Shouldn’t that be the worst your family has to muddle through?

That night we lost a brother…a best friend…a son, to suicide. The grief, the despair, the depression, the helplessness….it’s intangible. But moment by moment, day by day, you pick up the pieces until time passes and as the years tick by you find that the strongholds of grief are losing their grips.

And then, you receive the phone call that your mother in law has cancer. And it doesn’t look good.

You question God, you rail against Him in anger, you seek answers… You drop to your knees and slowly the faith that has kept you afloat your whole life, reminds you…

“Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” Isaiah 7:4 & 9

“… the God we serve is able to save us from it.. But even if he does not, …we will not serve your gods…(He is still good.)” Daniel 3:17

“Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food…
YET, (even then) I will rejoice in the Lord
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength” Habakkuk 3:17-19

All I want is order in my life and after 3 years of chaos, life was finally beginning to be somewhat normal.  So now, I feel like we are starting back all over again…on the brink of another life storm.

So what’s a girl to do? GIVE IT (my worries, my desire for control, my helplessness) TO GOD. Which is SO much easier said than done.

The book of Psalms has been a constant companion throughout my life and I’ve long believed that there is nothing wrong with asking God “WHY” and bemoaning the situation in our lives, if we first…give Him praise.

So, here’s my list of praises to HIM…

IMG_4276

~My MIL is staying positive & my children are able to spend quality time with her
~He has provided us with so many supportive family & friends
~No matter what happens in the weeks to come, He is a constant source of strength

And so, as we live out this storm in our lives, I am reminded of how crucial faith is to it all. Faith isn’t having all the answers, faith isn’t believing that everything will simply be all hunkey dorey…faith is having hope that there is a God, that there is a heaven, that He never leaves us, and that nothing separates us from Him.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

sig

 

03-11-2014

Sweet Italian Lasagna

I’ve wanted a great, not just decent, spaghetti sauce for ages and have finally crafted one that we love! What’s even better is that I also tried it in a lasagna and the gluten free noodles (Tinkyada) held up perfectly! I was so surprised because the few times I’ve tried rice spaghetti, they became pure mush. But these rice lasagna noodles were fantastic!

The sauce is thick, flavorful, and uses the tomatoes I canned last summer. I am always excited to use tomatoes from my own garden! If you don’t have home canned tomatoes, no worries, just use whole tomatoes with their juice.

IMG_5460

 

Tips & Tricks ~ I personally cannot stand the fatty oil that sausage produces. So using paper towels, I continually wipe away the oil in the pan as it appears. This way you aren’t cooking the sausage in the oil. For a faster cooking time, substitute the stew meat with 1lb of ground beef. You won’t have the great texture that stew meat provides but will be able to use the sauce almost immediately. Just taste after 20 minutes of simmering to see if flavors have melded enough. Also, seasoning with a tiny bit of salt & pepper a few times while simmering creates a more flavorful sauce. If you wait till the very end to add salt – you end up with a recognizable ‘salty’ taste.

Inspiration for these recipes came from Gluten Free Recipe Box

Spaghetti Sauce

1 lb beef stew meat, cut into bite size pieces
1 lb sweet italian sausage
1 cup chopped sweet onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp italian seasoning
1/2 tbsp dried tarragon
12 oz tomato paste
8 oz tomato sauce
32 oz homemade canned tomatoes or whole tomatoes with juices
1 1/2 tsp white sugar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 bay leaf
1-2 cups water
olive oil
kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper

In a large dutch oven, cook ground sausage until browned. Remove sausage from pan and set aside in a separate bowl. Wipe pan down to remove excess oil and lightly brown the bite size pieces of stew meat. Once browned, remove stew meat from pan, adding to the bowl of ground sausage.

Wipe dutch oven down again, and heat two teaspoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and sprinkle with a pinch or two of kosher salt. Saute onions, stirring often with a wooden spoon, for 5-7 minutes, until turning soft and just beginning to brown. Add garlic, tomato paste, and dried herbs; sauteing for an additional minute. Add meat back to dutch oven and then add all other ingredients, through the bay leaf, and add 1 tsp kosher salt and 1/2 tsp ground pepper. Stir well and if the sauce looks too thick, add up to 2 cups of water. 

Bring sauce to a slow simmer and cook for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally, until stew meat is tender.

Yields: ~ 8 cups sauce

Lasagna Recipe

Tips & Tricks ~ This is a great dish to have kids help with! They can grate the cheese & sprinkle it over the lasagna, pour the sauce where needed, and of course, be in charge of the lasagna noodles. And you’ll be left with 1 or 2 extra noodles…kids love to eat these!
Using fresh herbs in the ricotta is my secret ingredient for this lasagna. The herbs provide a fresh vibrant taste to the lasagna that you can’t replicate with dried herbs. I’ve also found that the less sauce you use, the better. This allows for a more firm set of the lasagna. But no fears if you use more – it might be a bit runny but still as delicious.  And any hard cheese (such as Gouda) can be exchanged for the Parmesan.

1 box of gluten free lasagna noodles (strongly recommend Tinkyada)
3 cups of spaghetti sauce
8 oz ricotta
fresh rosemary & oregano chopped (apprx 4tbsp total)
kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper
1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Gouda cheese
olive oil

Preheat oven to 350degrees.

Bring large pot of water to boil, adding a tbsp of oil and a tsp of salt. Add lasagna noodles, cooking for 10 minutes and then drain.

While lasagna boils, in a small bowl stir together the ricotta with fresh herbs and a dash of salt and a few turns of the pepper mill.

Using olive oil, ‘grease’ sides  and top surface area of lasagna pan.

Add a little sauce to the bottom of your baking dish. You don’t want a lot of sauce on the bottom, just a thin covering – primarily of the sauce versus the meat. Spread 1 layer of lasagna noodles and then using a spatula spoon/spread a thin layer of ricotta over the noodles. You may need to use your fingers to spread it all over. Sprinkle with mozzarella and a few sprinkles of the grated Parmesan. Now add another layer of spaghetti sauce, noodles, ricotta and cheeses. Repeat layers until you have a final bit of sauce on top which you cover with the last of your mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes, until cheese is nice & bubbly and browned all over.  Allow to sit for 10 minutes before cutting.

Enjoy!!

sig