Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I really can't believe it took me this long to figure this out! Sometimes I am as dense as...as flourless chocolate cake!

I was thinking about how much I used to LOVE to make things. Every year I would learn a new craft, and then gift it to my family for Christmas. I am not sure they always appreciated my endeavors, but things pop up here and there, that they still own or display, so maybe it wasn't all a lost cause. Here are a few of the more memorable crafts:

Years, nay aeons ago, when I was a new bride, I learned to clean ceramics from greenware, then paint and carefully drybrush the pieces after they were fired. I loved to make things look as realistic as possible and still fondly remember the Santas I made for everyone that year. Somehow, I did not end up with one for myself!

I learned to do stained glass and spent hours cutting small glass pieces and carefully wrapping them in glowing copper tape. There is no telling how many thousands of little cuts I got on my fingers and arms...but I did not care. I was happily engrossed in creating beauty out of glass and color.

I was a "scrapper" too...spending every waking moment (and I do mean every) that I was not at work, carefully telling the story of our lives with paper and photographs. My husband was in grad school, so during those late nights while he was studying, I was cutting and taping and arranging...happily passing the hours and reliving the fun times we had with each other and our families.

Then there were the jewelry years...haunting the bead shop on Broadway and the Dragon's Lair, the bead show that came to town twice a year. With my trusty calculator nearby (aka the Hillbilly), I would shop the bead show for hours, agonizing over color and cut, stone shape and size, trying my best to get the most for my money. But my favorite part of this phase was making a necklace, earrings and bracelet to wear to work...an hour before I had to be there! Boy, life without kids was so very different (but that is another story all together!). I had shows to sell my items, and sometimes even sold it off my neck and arms! What a hoot!

And so we come to my Great Revelation. I was trying to figure out why I had stopped learning new things. Why I had stopped creating. You see, I am a creative person. Created by God to make things. It is in every atom of my body, and if I am not creating then I am not very happy. Then I realized, as I stood in my kitchen with my kefir water happily bubbling away in one corner, and my bone broth in another, with my home made sausage in the freezer and my kids scones in the oven, that I AM creating, just in a whole new arena.

Food is now the medium I work in, the thing that keeps me up late doing research or stirring a pot, or carefully shopping at the store looking for just the right ingredient. Food is wrapped around all the stories of our lives and is the center of so many of our interactions. Shapes and colors, savory and sweet, glittering glass jars and shimmering steel pots. Food! What a joyful, wonderful revelation!


Friday, September 7, 2012

You had me at CAKE!

Cake. If you are blessed, you get one made for you every year on your birthday. And maybe there will be lots of leftovers, so you get to eat more of it yourself! That's what The Hillbilly (his name for himself, not mine) always hopes for, every year on HIS birthday! Then...SHAZAM!...your diet changes and suddenly you have to eat gluten free...or worse yet, when it comes to cake, GRAIN FREE! Yowsa! How's a girl who likes to bake supposed to come up with a great cake for her man, when there's no grain in the house?!

Enter a little inspiration and a whole lot of math stress. See, Sweet Girl is having major math issues right now (think 6 hours to do 1 1/2 hours of work), so Mommy has been a little s.t.r.e.s.s.e.d. lately, and we all know Mommy likes to nosh when she is stressed (but that's another post, altogether).

Surfing the net, I found a brownie recipe that looked super yummy. I tried it. Chocolate Bliss!!

So back to the cake...I was having a really hard time going out to buy flour to make a cake when I have spent the last two months ridding my body and my house of grain. I decided to take a stab at waving a wand over the brownie recipe and turning it into a German Chocolate cake of which the Hillbilly would approve. More than approve, I really wanted that look of "You really nailed it this time Baby!" Birthday cake perfection. That's what I was after.

So here goes:

(kinda) Paleo German Chocolate Cake

preheat oven to 325 degrees

While you are prepping the batter, go ahead and toast 2 Cups chopped pecans and 2 Cups unsweetened coconut for the frosting. I like....well, I was going to tell you what brand I like, but we ate it all! I will have to come back and add it to this post when I get some more.

To toast the nuts/coconut, use a baking sheet with sides and line with parchment paper. Spread out mixture on paper (you might need to do this in two batches, if your pan is not very large), and put in preheated oven. Toast til lightly brown, stirring once. Don't forget it is in the oven!! It will BURN! Not that I know that from personal experience or anything...although they did ban me from warming rolls in the college kitchen after one too many fires...) Anyway, once it is toasted, remove pan from oven and let cool til you are ready to finish making the frosting.

And back to the cake:

Grease 2 round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper (or waxed paper, whatever you have on hand); You will also want to line a regular muffin pan with 12 paper liners (see, I don't really like German Chocolate Cake...but I LOVE brownies, so I made a little birthday dessert for me too!)

Whisk Dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside:
1 C cocoa powder - use the good stuff, the flavor will be much better!
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp instant coffee grounds

I love to use pretty bowls when I cook...it inspires me!

Wet ingredients. Put into mixer in order, one at a time, and mix well before adding next ingredient.

3 1/2 Cups almond butter (buy it, or make your own, by grinding raw almonds in your food processor til butter forms...google it - it's not hard to do)
1/2 Cup butter (1 stick) softened
4 large eggs, room temp
1 1/2 Cups maple syrup...I prefer Grade B...it is very tasty and full of minerals
2 Tbsp vanilla
1 Tbsp Rum or Brandy (optional)

When the wet ingredients are well combined, shake in the dry ingredients and mix well, making sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl to get everything mixed in thoroughly.

What a beautiful batter! I think it is even prettier than some gluten free cakes I have made.

Fill the 12 muffin liners 1/2-2/3 full, then evenly divide the rest of the batter between the two prepared cake pans. Tap to settle the cake and level out the batter, then put all three in the oven to bake. I put the muffins at about 1/3 of the way down from the top and the two cake pans about 2/3 of the way down. (Have I mentioned lately how much I miss my convection oven...)

Raising nicely. Cake behaves so much better at sea-level.

You will bake the cupcakes for 15-20 minutes, the cakes for about 25-30 minutes. You will know it is done when the center is set and a toothpick put in the middle comes out clean. Move cupcakes to cooling racks right away. Let cakes sit in pans 10 minutes, then carefully run a knife around the edge of the pan, place your cooling rack on top of the cake pan and flip the cake and rack over together. Tap the bottom of the pan to make sure the cake released, lift off the pan and gently pull off the parchment paper and leave the cake on the rack to finish cooling. Repeat with second cake layer.

While the cake is baking, prep the icing.

German Chocolate Icing

Please see above for toasting directions for the nuts/coconut

2 Cups Chopped Pecans
2 Cups unsweetened coconut

1 1/2 Cups brown sugar
2 sticks butter
1 3/4 Cups evaporated milk (the NOT in not Paleo)
4 tsp vanilla
4 tsp brandy (optional)
6 large egg yolks

Combine all of these ingredients and cool over medium heat until it is bubbling and thick, first stirring with whisk, then spatula, as it gets thicker. I would not leave it alone at this point..it kind of becomes like a sneaky two-year-old, if you know what I mean. Take pan off heat when a thermometer reads 225 degrees. Carefully add nuts/coconut (using paper as a funnel) and mix well. Let cool while cake finishes baking and cools off to room temperature.

OK...now to the fun part!

Place first layer on your cake plate. Scoop a good amount of icing into the middle, and carefully spread out, you can even go ahead and do the edges now, if you want. Then even more carefully, place the top layer on the cake, and continue frosting, till the top and sides are completely covered. If the icing is cool enough, it should go pretty easily. If you got in too much of a hurry (I have lived much of my life in this spot), then icing the cake will be harder, because the icing will slide more.

Oila! The cake is finished. So sing happy birthday, and wait for The Look. It's coming just wait for it. This cake is GOOD!

BTW, I got the basic recipe for the frosting here: And the inspiration Brownie recipe here:

Monday, September 3, 2012

Pumpkin Walnut Pancakes

Saturday is pancake day here at the Inn. I might want to skip it some days, which I did this last Saturday, but I always have to make it up to the kids on another day...I have to say, I don't really mind because they are so great to eat "pottage" the other six days of the week.

I posted an almond flour and avocado pancake recipe a short time ago, and it is really good, but it takes an extra step to get them on the table since I am too cheap don't buy preground almond flour. So for today, I decided to try this pumpkin recipe. Let me know if you try it and what you think about it!

These don't look anything like their gluten filled, no nutrient pancake cousins, but I am okay with that. These are made with real food, they won't spike your blood sugar and the flavor is really good!

Pumpkin Pancakes

Found this in the Practical Paleo cookbook I got for my birthday and tried them this am, with my changes, of course! Pretty good!

Makes 19 pancakes +/-

Preheat griddle to 325 degrees

8 eggs, whisked

1 1/2 C canned pumpkin

2 tsp vanilla extract

4 Tbsp good maple sryup (Grade B is best...has LOTS of great minerals in it)

1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp powdered ginger

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda

4 Tbsp good butter

1/2 cup finely ground walnuts (optional)

Whisk eggs with pumpkin, vanilla and syrup. Then whisk in dry ingredients, and finally stir in the nuts if you are going to use them.

This batter is pretty thin, so don't be surprised! I used a 1/4 C measuring cup to ladle the mixture onto the griddle.

Melt a little butter on the griddle, then use the measuring cup to pour batter onto hot griddle. Make sure to keep them small and easy to flip, since they are just a bit fragile. Flip when you see bubbles start to form on the top of the pancake. Cook till center is set.

Serve with additional butter and fresh maple syrup.

Totally delish, and perfect for fall!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Creamy Chicken Soup over Cauliflower 'Rice'

You know what I just realized? Since I can't eat grain anymore, I don't need a toaster. And my blog is named after my beautiful red toaster which languishes in my cabinet, alone and neglected...what to do, what to do...

Oh, well, I digress.

We are new on this Paleo food journey and after reading some research on Adrenal Fatigue, I discovered that it could take two years to get myself back to normal! Wow. That's a long time with no grain. But I am committed for the long haul, and frankly, I have been enjoying trying all these new foods (or rather new ways of preparing old foods). Which leads me to today.

At two o'clock I realized that there were no dinner plans in my near future and I better get a move on. I had my sights set on reorganizing and cleaning out the pantry and kitchen, but first I needed to get dinner going or there was going to be some serious caterwauling going on around here. I grabbed a recipe I had recently copied from, well, I don't really know WHERE I got this one from, but I did change it (of course) so it is not a direct copy (sorry)! This one is quick and easy and sure to satisfy those empty tummies!

Creamy Chicken Stew

3-4 chicken breasts (frozen ok),
2 T Italian Seasoning (it seems like I actually used 1 tsp oregano, 1 tsp basil and 1 tsp parsley)
1 T basil
2 cloves garlic - pressed
1 can whole-fat coconut milk
2 cups bone broth (or really good chicken broth)
1/2 c white wine
salt and pepper to taste

Now here is the easy part! Mix together everything but the chicken in the crockpot. Add chicken and turn to coat. Cook on high 3-4 hours. Oila! Go clean out your pantry, or climb Mt. Washmore. Or take the kids for a bike ride...the sky is the limit! The house will smell great, and everyone will think you spent hours cooking! I love it when it works!

About 20 minutes before you want to eat you will want to toss together this quick faux rice to put under your tasty chicken. I had heard about "cauliflower rice" but was honestly pretty skeptical. I mean really, how can you make cauliflower taste like rice?!? I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. Give it a try and tell me what you think!

The only changes I made were to put my riced cauliflower in a large bowl, and season it there, before I put it in the hot pan. I used salt, lots of dried thyme (since there is thyme in the chicken), garlic powder and onion powder.

Once you have the cauliflower steaming, remove the chicken from the crockpot and shred. When everything is ready, it goes together like this: Into your bowl you layer the 'rice', then shredded chicken and then put broth over the top. Your family will rave and you will sit back and admire your organized kitchen and the smiling faces of your loved ones, and chalk one up for the Crockpot Momma.

Now, there is one little thing you should know about. If you make this with a box of chicken broth, your tastebuds are not going to sing. You really need to put together a batch of bone broth which has so much more flavor and depth. You basically do that by taking a chicken carcass or two and cooking them 12-24 hours with onions, garlic, celery, whole peppercorns and lots of water. You can find out more by doing a google search for bone broth. And to be fully transparent, my two cups of bone broth were actually left over from a Chicken Marsala I did a few weeks ago, which had the wine in it, so it had cooked down really well. I do believe it added even another layer of flavor to our soup tonight.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Chicken Curry and Creamed Cauliflower...WOW!

I LOVE savory food. Love it. Makes my heart and my tummy so very happy!!

I have been off grains and sugar for the last 2-3 weeks, eating a huge salad at lunch every day, and some kind of lean meat and veggie for dinner. So far, I have not really missed grain at all, which I find very surprising, since it has driven my food choices for so many years!

In my quest for new recipes, I came upon a chicken curry recipe that was more complicated. You are supposed to brown veggies, then brown the chicken, then make a sauce and...well, you get the idea. It is pretty time intensive! So I made it easy. And fast. And it makes the kitchen smell good all.day.long. Really!!

First off, curry powder. You can use a premade one, but I can't have any peppers, so I threw together a quick blend of pre-ground spices and toasted it in a dry skillet to bring out the aromas. Once I get my new mortar and pestle...look out!

Thai Curry Powder

1 Tbsp ground Turmeric
3 Tbsp ground corriander
2 Tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground peppercorns (pref. white, but black will work)
1 pinch ground cloves

Heat dry skillet to medium high and add mixed ground spices. Stir or toss til they are well mixed and the heat has brought out all the yummy aromas and oils. Let cool and store in small glass jar. Makes about 1/2 C. Make it ahead of time and when the taste for curry makes you crazy, you are ready to go!

Chicken Curry

1 can coconut milk
1/2 can water
2 T of curry powder (see above)
2 t freshly minced ginger...though I used dried today, since I was out of fresh
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Vidalia or other sweet onion, sliced
pinch of salt
4 chicken breasts, cut into strips; you can also use thighs or legs

Mix all ingredients except chicken in bottom of crock pot. Add chicken and stir to coat. Cook on low for 2 -3 hours, or 'til chicken is cooked.

So this deliciousness was wafting through the house all day...and got me hankerin' after something creamy to offset the curry...what to do, what to do? So I got online and found a Creamed Cauliflower recipe that I had to doctor because, well, that's what I do! And I was missing a few of their ingredients! Here is my version:

Creamed Cauliflower

1 large head cauliflower, steamed well (you don't want al dente for this!)
2/3 block cream cheese, softened (it can sit out while the cauliflower steams)
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup plain kefir (or other milk sub...that's just what we had)
2 small cloves of garlic, peeled
salt to taste

Add cheese, butter, and garlic to food processor. Cut up cauliflower into chunks and steam cauliflower 'til cooked through. Drain and add to food processor. Turn on and pulse 'til big pieces are broken down, and add kefir/milk only if needed to combine all ingredients. Add salt to taste.

Mercy!! What a good, flavorful dinner! I am sure the cream cheese adds more calories than you have to have, but it was what I had and it sure was good!!

Let me know if you try it, and what you think!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Off the Deep End?

Maybe, but it sure is fun down here!

It's Saturday! And in the Reynolds' home, Saturday means....PANCAKES!!

Since we embarked on our No-Grain diet, I have been looking for a good pancake that the kids will like, and which fits our new way of eating. I found a few, but the reviews were not that great, so I have not at this point tried any of them. Until today that is, when I found a non-Paleo recipe that talked about whipping the egg whites and then folding them into the batter. Ureeka! That one caught my attention right away.

The problem with the other almond flour based pancakes seemed to be heaviness and that they were very fragile. Most reviewers wrote that the pancakes fell apart while flipping, and we all know that falling apart pancakes are no fun at all!

So feeling inventive this morning (amazing what 7 1/2 hours of sleep will do for your foggy mind, not to mention getting rid of grain), I decided to take two different recipes and make my own Saturday Morning Savory Pancakes. You will be thrilled to know that I MEASURED everything!! Oh the JOY of a real, live Trinarecipe with measurements!

Saturday Morning Savory Pancakes

Preheat griddle to 275 degrees; on the stove this would be a medium-low heat.

Dry Ingredients

2 C fresh ground raw almonds (I used my food processor to do this...not sure what the exact equivalent would be for store bought almond flour, since it tends to settle, but I would start with less and add a bit more if needed)

2 T Coconut Flour

1/2 tsp Cinnamon

1/2 tsp Salt

1/4 tsp Ginger

Mix all these dry ingredients together and set aside.

Wet Ingredients

4 large eggs, separated

1/2 C Water

1/2 C Mashed Ripe Banana

stay with me here...1/2 C finely mashed ripe Avocado (equals about 1 normal sized avocado)

2 tsp Vanilla

1 T Maple Syrup

Beat egg whites till foamy and set aside while you...

Combine rest of wet ingredients, mixing well. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well. Fold in egg whites, mixing until combined well. Batter is thicker than your normal gf batter...don't even ask me how it compares to regular wheat batter...I have not made those in so many years, I don't even remember!!

Using your 1/4 c measuring cup, put batter on the griddle, using the bottom of the measuring cup or a fork to spread the batter out to an even thickness. These pancakes need to cook slowly, so don't rush them or they will be burned on the outside and raw in the middle! Yuck!

I'm not sure if this conforms to the Paleo mindset, but we topped our pancakes with a little pat of butter and our delicious Grade B Maple Syrup...it is dark and full of wonderful minerals and tastes like a bit of Heaven on your tongue!

If you are just leaving the gluten filled world, I am guessing that this pancake will take some getting used to. Because it is made with nut flour, it has a grainier texture than even a gf pancake would have. We normally put ground walnuts in our gf pancakes, so it was not a real stretch for us.

Also, I would not advertise the avocado in the pancake until your family has tasted them!! One of my kids knew about it (he was helping me cook) the other two and my Darling Hubby did not, and all three of them really liked the pancake a lot. There is absolutely NO avocado flavor in the pancake at all! I promise! It just adds creaminess and lots of good oil.

So, if you are brave, give these a whirl and come back and tell me what you think!

Happy Saturday!

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Research in food always gets my brain going...and you just never know what might come out of the pan!

Right now I am looking at the Paleo/Primal ideas of food. Basic premise: eat good meat, good fats, lots of veggies, minimal fruit and dairy. Doing this keeps your blood sugar balanced, and keeps you away from inflammatory foods, which can wreak havoc in your body. As happens with most "diets", you have the full range of investment, from the radical, "all out" folks, to the people who just take everything as a suggestion.

As I was talking to a friend last night about these ideas she told me about a cool cookbook that really has my brain stewing. It is called Well Fed, and I think it may be my new favorite cookbook!

What I think I am really going to love, is the author's idea of doing some big prep on Sundays, to make meal prep during the week go so much more easily. Even though today's recipe has nothing to do with her book, I will give the author Melissa Joulwan the credit for our yummy dinner!

It all started with mushrooms. Mushrooms and broccoli. Except the broccoli ended up back in the fridge, a casualty of my other favorite 'cookbook', The Flavor Bible. I had this idea to saute mushrooms a la Julia Child, in coconut oil. We had some leftover roasted chicken and had just purchased some ginger today as well as some asparagus, so I looked both of those up in my Flavor Bible and it all came together like this:

Chicken with 'Shrooms and Asparagus

5-6 mushrooms, peeled and sliced
2-3 Tbsp coconut oil
butter - skip this if you are dairy free
salt and pepper
1 bunch baby asparagus (the big ones are too tough), ends chopped off and cut in half
thumb size piece of ginger, peeled and grated fine
leftover roasted chicken, chopped (I used about 2 cups)
salt and pepper

* Heat pan to medium heat.
* Add coconut oil, and let melt.
* Add mushrooms in one layer. Saute gently, then flip and cook on other side (I salted mushrooms and added a few tsp of butter here). This will give you beautifully golden mushrooms...a la Julia Child!
* Remove mushrooms from pan, and return pan to burner.
* Add a little more coconut oil/butter and bring to temp. Add asparagus and a little salt. Stirring and tossing til cooked al dente.
* While asparagus is cooking, chop chicken and grate ginger. Add chicken to the pan.
* Return mushrooms to pan.
* When chicken is warmed through, add ginger and toss all ingredients together. Check salt and pepper and adjust accordingly.

I dished this yummy concoction onto our plates, and topped it with a bit of freshly grated Parmesan. It added a nice tang, and truthfully, I thought it might encourage the kids to dig in if they saw cheese on top! They are pretty brave eaters, but the idea of mushrooms was throwing the boys off.

Verdict: They LOVED it! Even AJ was asking for more! It fed four of us, and they had some leftover limas on the side (a casualty of cooking on the fly...the limas were already warming as I created the asparagus dish, so I went ahead and served them anyway). When I make this again for all of us, I will probably double it, or perhaps serve it with a salad.

Let me know how you like it, and if you make any modifications!